John 12:24-25, Mark 8:34
While I am not much of a TV addict, I have recently come across a series that has me hooked . . . House. The series is about a team of doctors, one slightly eccentric, who battle against all odds to diagnose patients with rare diseases. The show usually begins with a patient collapsing in the middle of a very public setting and being rushed into hospital. The majority of the show is then taken up by various scenes of Dr House and his team carrying out all kinds of unconventional tests to work out what is killing their patient. More often than not this will include a scene where one of the assistant doctors is sent to break in and search the patient's house in an attempt to find clues. While this is a completely unrealistic practise it often leads to a discovery that helps Dr House unlock the puzzle. Then for the finale you can bank on the show ending with the once extremely ill patient walking out of the hospital with a large smile on their face, ever so grateful to Dr House for saving their life.
While it may not seem very exciting from reading my synopsis, there is something about this show that grips me. Perhaps it is the battle for life, the determination of the doctors to cheat death with their medical genius. Perhaps it's my love hate relationship with the anti social Maverick Dr House who is constantly defying authority and offending everyone in his path, yet always somehow saves the day. Whatever the case there is something that leaps inside of me when a patient leaves that hospital full of life and I am sure I am not alone in this. There is probably something inside all of us that yearns to see life preserved.
That's why death is not an easy subject and letting something die seems a very odd thing to do. Despite this the Bible tells us that there are times in life where it is appropriate, even important, to let something die.
In John 12:24 Jesus says to his disciples:
'I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.'
He then goes on to say something even more puzzling!
'The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternity. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will be'.
In Mark 8:34 we hear it like this:
'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it'.
Now, at the time Jesus said these things he was actually preparing for his own death. The disciples probably didn't fully understand it at the time, but Jesus in effect was saying, 'guys, if you are really up for following me, stop trying to save your precious lives. It's no good! Let your life go. Follow me in laying it down, that's when you will really start living'.
What a massive challenge!
Everything in this world is telling us to fight for our lives, to get all we can, to take hold of every opportunity, to climb the ladder, yet here Jesus is saying forget it. Die!
So what does it mean for us to die?
Obviously God is not asking us all to buy a couple of planks from the hard wear store, make a cross and get up on it. It's more about us changing the way we live. Living a life that says, 'instead of doing everything possible to get things my way, I am letting go, handing the controls over to God and saying 'game on'.
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