Thursday, August 06, 2009
When we die to ourselves, we live better here and we live forever with God! What’s not to like about that deal?I love the fact that Mark challenge both his parishioners and his congregation in this sermon. It set me to wondering how many good, godly people get together and build worldly congregations?
A young man approached a friend of his who had been telling him all about Jesus Christ. “If I follow Jesus,” he wondered, “will I have to give up the things I love?” “No,” the friend replied, “but if you follow Jesus Christ, God will change the things you love.” Are you engaged in the daily discipline of letting God change the things you love so that you can daily move toward becoming who God made you to be?
Dying to self in order to follow Jesus will change our priorities. We love the things God loves. We love the people God loves.
C.S. Lewis once said, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right then, have it your way.’”
You and I have been given an awesome freedom by God. We can live for ourselves in this moment and die forever. God gives us that freedom. Or we can die to this world’s claims on us, live for Jesus Christ alone, and so, live with God forever.
You know the choice that our gracious, loving God wants us to make. I hope and pray it’s the choice we always make, as a congregation and as individuals each and every day!
It's so easy to do. We have a lot of words about how to be good, godly people. We have the Sermon on the Mount - We have the Decalogue - We have that wonderful list of fruits of the Spirit. But we have no similar guidelines for for churches. When it comes to churches, the rules are straighforward:
- Go and make disciples
- Some of you are good at some things and some at others - do what you are good at and let them do what they are good at.
That, dear friends, is about it. So what can we learn from this minimalist set of instructions on how to be and do church? May I suggest perhaps more than we realize.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason we have so much about how we as individuals are supposed to be, and so little about how we, as a group, are supposed to be is because if we are right as individuals, the whole group thing will work it self out on its own?! Which therefore, sets the first priority of the group - help us as individuals to become true disciples.
So many today view the church not as a body of Christ, but as a purely reproductive organ. Yet think for a minute how self-serving that is. The church exists to build the church. That is pretty much the definition of self-focus. (Mark even uses an appropriate illustration to this in his sermon, please if you have not yet followed the link, do so and read the whole thing.)
I know too many people that have died to themselves, but only so far as they have given of themselves to the church. And yet, they control the church so how much have the really died to themselves? You see, the real lesson here is not that we die to self, but that we die. The rest of it is up to God, wholly and completely.