In Luke 24 Jesus tells his disciples “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” As I was reading that passage in a book by Bishop Schnase on risk-taking mission and service, it got me to thinking about what would happen if our churches began to live out that challenge by Jesus. Many of us challenge our congregations to live a risk taking life and to trust God to meet our needs. We don’t hesitate to ask our people to stretch in their giving and to respond to needs of the church.
I believe that Jesus was challenging us to live fully for God. If we try and hold on to even a small piece of our life then we haven’t decided to trust God with everything we have. Are we willing to trust God in the church enough to realize that some things, even churches, need to die to self in order for the church to know new life?
In order to serve God fully we must be willing to die to self and live fully for God. That means the old self must die so that new life can come. Jesus tells us that the willingness to give up our life for his sake would mean that we saved our life. I have always looked at this as a promise related to eternal life. Now I am beginning to think that Jesus was also talking about this life as well. When we die in living for ourselves so that we can really sell ourselves out for Jesus we must give up things that seemed so important to us in the past.
My life has changed dramatically as I have learned to die to self in order to serve my God in all areas of my life. That change has not always been easy and at times it has been very difficult for me to give up some things. Every time I have watched some part of my life die in order to more faithfully serve my Lord I have found that I understand anew that my life has been saved.
What would happen if our churches began to live as if it believed their life wasn’t their own but God’s? What would it mean for the church to die to self so that it might live? Would it mean that we had to give up thinking about what we like? Would it mean giving up thinking about how to use our money to keep the doors open and how we can impact the world for Jesus with it? Would it mean thinking not about how we can connect with God in our church but how we can help people not in a relationship with God connect to God?
The church is not a building, but the people that make it up. When we think about that we realize that for the church to die to self we must die to self. If the church is going to live it must be living for Jesus. When the church, the people, live and love like Jesus they begin transforming the world in the name of Jesus. Others can’t help but be attracted to the life of those that have been touched by the hand of God. All it takes is a willingness to die!