What are you willing to die for?


 

““A man can only live with so much. True enough. At some point he will have to die for something. If not now, then for an eternity.” Jan stilled at the words, surprised. How much truth was in those few words? At some point he will have to die for something. They could easily be from his own book, and yet spoken here by this stranger they sounded . . . magical.”

     from “When Heaven Weeps: Newly Repackaged Novel from The Martyr’s Song Series (The Heaven Trilogy Book 2)” by Ted Dekker
    
http://amzn.to/29Zqcqj

 

We read something like this – and think it means we have to literally die – like stop breathing and get buried six feet under.  Not surprising, really.  Especially when we realize things like this – from How The twelve Apostles Died <<Fox’s Book of Martyrs>>

The Twelve Apostles - how they died

Andrewcrucified
Bartholomewbeaten, then crucified
James, son of Alphaeusstoned to death
James, son of Zebedeebeheaded
Johnexiled for this faith, died of old age
(survived being boiled in oil)
Judas (not Iscariot)stoned to death
Matthewspeared to death
Petercrucified upside down
(upside down at his request, because he didn't deserve to be right-side up)
Philipcrucified
Simoncrucified
Thomasspeared to death
Matthiasstoned to death

Of course, there’s always the way Jesus Himself died –

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27:27-31 pp — Mk 15:16-20

Mt 27:27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion

27:33-44 pp — Mk 15:22-32; Lk 23:33-43; Jn 19:17-24

Mt 27:32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Mt 27:41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

 So much death.  No wonder that’s what we think of.

However!

What I’m about to write here may not sound familiar to you.  
Maybe it doesn’t remind you of any of the “Christians” that you know.
Maybe it doesn’t even sound like anything you’ve heard in any church you’ve ever gone to.
But it’s all from the Bible – God’s own Word.
Not filtered by someone else’s perspective – but words straight from the Book.
Not the way we actually do live – but the way we should.
I pray that it makes you think.  Even open up a Bible – paper or electronic.  And then think some more.  Pray even.

There’s another death, of sorts, that took place before any of the Apostle’s died. One that we don’t even think about, probably.

Let’s look at when the first two disciples, Simon and Andrew – followed by James and John.

The Calling of the First Disciples

1:16-20 pp — Mt 4:18-22; Lk 5:2-11; Jn 1:35-42

Mk 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,”he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mk 1:16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Mk 1:19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Yes – something “died” at those points in time.  All four of these people had been fishermen.  Right up to the point where Jesus came into their lives and called them to do something else.  Their lives as fishermen – they ended.  Lots of things they used to do that would have been perfectly “normal” for fishermen, were all of a sudden going to have to stop.  Life, as they knew it, was over.  There was a new life that they were entering into.  Their old selves just died.  And new selves were born.

The “death” was even more striking when Levi (Matthew) was called.

The Calling of Levi

2:14-17 pp — Mt 9:9-13; Lk 5:27-32

Mk 2:13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,”Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Mk 2:15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Mk 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Those same two words – follow me.  Followed by a choice to do just that – to follow Jesus.  And another old self died – with a new one coming to life.  And this one was even more striking.  Levi was a Jew, and a tax collector!  Hated by the Jews, because he worked for the Romans – taking their money for taxes and handing it over to the Romans.  Worse still, the tax collectors would overcharge the Jewish people (their Jewish brothers) and keep the extra portion as their earnings.  But now here’s this Jew (Jesus) asking Levi to join Him and other Jews to start a new life.

Dying – in the physical sense, is one thing.  Yes – we think it’s bad.  But it happens, and it’s over.  
The kind of death we’re talking about when following Jesus lasts for the rest of our lives.  That would be our physical lives and for eternity afterwards.

I submit – that death – the one where we choose to follow Jesus, is far more drastic that what we normally think of with the word death.

And look what happens after following Jesus, when we do physically die.  

    • We “die” to follow Jesus – as in
      • Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

        Jn 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
        Jn 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’”
        Jn 3:4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
        Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
        Jn 3:9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
        Jn 3:10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

    • Then we physically die, and if we believed in Jesus = we live with Him for eternity – as in
       

      • Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

What are you willing to die for?

We’re all going to die.  
And we’re all going to die for something.
Remember – even nothing is something.
So if we die for nothing else – we’ve died for nothing.  Talk about pointless.

So again, what are you willing to die for?

Something worthwhile?

Anything other than dying for Jesus is dying for less than we should / could.

Conclusion

As the quote at the top said –

““A man can only live with so much. True enough. At some point he will have to die for something. If not now, then for an eternity.” Jan stilled at the words, surprised. How much truth was in those few words? At some point he will have to die for something. They could easily be from his own book, and yet spoken here by this stranger they sounded . . . magical.”

Well, we’ve seen a lot of truth already.  And it is true – whether you choose to accept it or not – but here’s just a bit more –

The Shepherd and His Flock

Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

What we see then is –

  • we die to Jesus – give up control of our lives to Him (as least as much as we’re actually willing to)
  • we live a more full life than we would have if we had refused to die to Jesus
  • and when we finally physically die – we spend eternity with Him in the Kingdom of God.

Here’s a more blunt way to look at the choices – from the other point of view.

  • we refuse to die to Jesus – our choice
  • as a result of that choice, we have also decided to live a life that isn’t as full / complete in order to live an empty life that has nothing to show at its end
  • we die anyway, in the physical sense – and spend an eternity without God.  

Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad, but here’s (I think) the final bit of truth –

Love for Enemies

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 Yeah – even though you may not care one bit about God, or even if you absolutely hate Him – good things comes to you, because He loves you.  Simple things – things that you take for granted, or think that it’s just science or nature – like the sun and the rain.  Even the concept of “love” – even when it comes to only the few people in your life that you actually care about – even that is a very tiny reflection of the Love that God gave to us.

Think one more time about what you are willing to die for.

Think about the fact that things you take for granted – sun, rain, love, friendship even – they won’t be around anymore if you reject God and choose to not spend eternity with Him.

There’s two ways to look at this.

One is that I’m trying to scare you with the concept of going to Hell.

The other is that I’m trying to wake you up to the reality that you really do appreciate and even need gifts from God.  You just don’t give Him credit for having given those things to you.  So you think you don’t need Him – when the simple truth is that you desperately need and unknowingly depend on gifts from Him.

You can take it either way.  I can’t make you believe anything about my intentions.  
If either of the two works – I’m happy.
If it comes down to my motives, then I need to tell you, it’s the second one.  I don’t believe it’s possible to threaten someone into loving anyone.  

What are you willing to die for?

Hopefully, the answer is Jesus.

 


image from dougsdevotions.com

Please leave a comment - it's nice to hear from you