Friday, April 06, 2012

Living When Dying is Gain

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  2 Corinthians 5:14-15

May you be blessed this Holy Week PCC!

Death is never easy.  This week, as a community, we pause to remember and experience the passion, agony, human absurdity and Divine irony of the cross and the glorious, life-changing, hope-producing, faith-developing resurrection of Jesus.
You are welcome and wanted to gather with us for our many experiences designed for all ages and generations starting tonight through Sunday.  Learn about those here.

When you think about it, celebrating a brutal, mob-incited, vigilante-style, set of trials, beatings and death that Jesus experienced is a bit absurd. Calling that commemoration Good Friday is over the top. Why is it good? I would implore all of us to pause and look at the Apostle Paul's answer to that question in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

Good Friday is good because of the ultimate and definitive demonstration of love it displays (Romans 5:8).  Good Friday is good because of the template it provides for every follower of Jesus on how to live.  We are to live as if dying is gain.

When I think of my life, 100% of the pain I have experienced, and regrettably, 100% of the pain I have caused others have come because of choosing self over others. Conversely, the most impactful and rich memories I have accrued in my short 47 years were accumulated within the context of my or other's sacrifice.

I just spent time looking at over 400pictures of our team in Mexico.  The joy on their faces testifies to the gain that is being experienced from dying to comfort, cleanliness and other "American" rights.  My two weeks in the Congo also vividly reminded me of the life that is found when people die to themselves.  Our Congolese brothers and sisters pace us all in this regard.

Will you ponder with me as we close?  What's keeping you from dying to yourself?  How would your intimacy with Jesus, your marriage, your relationship with your kids and/or grandkids, your profession, your friendships be different if you made it your top prayer and priority to die to yourself?

In his excellent book (and a Christianity Today Book of the Year for 2011), Jesus+ Nothing = Everything, Tullian Tchividjian, (the Grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham), shares the following insight: 

Bearing fruit requires death.  Jesus said we must die in order that we may live.  Daily Christian living, in other words, is daily Christian dying: dying to our trivial comforts, soul shrinking conveniences, arrogant preferences and self centered entitlements, and living for something much larger than what makes us comfortable and safe.  God does everything through people who understand they are nothing. And God does nothing through those who think they are everything.

I need these truths this week for many reasons, not the least of which is to give me a whack on the side of the head and vividly remind how to live. So join me, PCC, and let's show the watching world what human life and community can look like when a community of Christ-centered people reprioritize their lives and live as if dying is gain!

I'll see you on Friday and look forward to meeting your friends and family on Easter Sunday.

I love being your pastor!