The Scriptures are full of paradoxes, and one of the most challenging for me is the paradox of life and death. Throughout Jesus’ teachings, He calls us to die daily, explaining that through our death we find life. This means–contrary to popular opinion–death really is the portal to life!
This is one of the most important paradoxes for us to understand: you can’t understand God’s work of grace in your life if you don’t understand this paradox.
Jesus says it this way: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-27)
Dying in order to live, something about this seems not right. Yet it makes perfect sense when you face the reality that you and I can’t live for ourselves and God at the same time.
We can’t write our own rules and submit to His rules. We can’t live for our glory and His glory. We can’t pride ourselves on our knowledge and ability and cast all our burdens upon Him. We can’t live for His Kingdom and our kingdoms.
Jesus makes it clear that coming to Him is not a negotiation. Coming to Jesus is a death, your death. He asks you to lose your life so that you may find life in Him.
Jesus calls us to die because He knows us well. It is our stubbornness, our independence, our stupidity, our rebellion, and our pride that stand in the way of His offer of true life. We like our little kingdoms more than we love His. We think our rules are better than His. We act like we are fine when really, we are hurting. If we are honest with ourselves, we know we need someone to rescue us from our delusions about our lives. And that’s why Jesus came to tell us we must die. Grace is out to kill us.
Don’t fight the death of your old life. Instead, celebrate the new, abundant, purpose-filled, eternal life that is yours by grace and grace alone.