A line from a book I recently read is sticking with me. It went something like this:
Wherever there is spiritual life, someone has died.
The point is powerful and important: in God's economy, life is brought about through death. In the smallest sense, we find ourselves physically sustained through the death of other things in this world, whether plant or animal. Jesus told us it basically works the same way with the life we have in him:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24; see also 1 Cor. 15:36)
In context, Jesus is reflecting both on the life we have because he was willing to die for us and on the life we live by dying for others. Now I assume that most, if not all, of the readers of this blog have a desire to do good in other people's lives. But like me, you probably want to bless others without paying too much to do it. "Lord, use me to help others, but do it before eight o'clock so I can watch some netflix tonight."
I want to be a good father until it means losing sleep or spending my free time playing legos instead of reading or shopping with my daughter rather than watching reruns of Cheers.
I want to be a good husband until it means coming home from work ready to help instead of collapsing on the couch or considering our love life as an opportunity to bless her rather than meet my own desires.
I want to be a good friend until they ask me for money or my truck or my Saturday.
I want to be a good pastor until it means serving people who don't compliment me enough or doing administrative stuff people only notice when it's missing or being faithful to pray deeply for my church family rather than read another blog post.
You'd think we might learn eventually. Because we follow a dead-and-risen Savior, we should expect the trajectories of our lives to be roughly the same. In Revelation 14:4 we are called those "who follow the Lamb wherever he goes." Jesus came to die so that we might live yet our hearts betray a deep-seated hope that somehow we might escape the same fate.
Rather, let's keep our eyes on Christ, filling our hearts with the truth of his life-bringing death.
Then let's go forth and die that others might live.
Today is a good day to die, a good day to take up a cross so that others might live.
Today's a good day to die for our families, spending ourselves to the last drop that they might live.
Today's a good day for husbands to die for their wives, leading as a servant rather than a dictator.
Today's a good day for wives to die for their husbands, dying the death of Christ-like submission to and respect for a very imperfect person.
Today's a good day to die for the lost, dying the death of shame or losing friends rather than let some continue unimpeded on their path of eternal death.
Today's a good day to die for coworkers, refusing to play the petty but enjoyable games of gossip and finding ways to serve and encourage them instead.
Today's a good die to die for our church families, finding and loving those you aren't typically drawn to, meeting mercy needs before anyone else even knows about them, being willing to serve in the little ways no one else might see.
Today's a good day to die because death brings life.