Catchy title huh? At the very least, it peaked your curiosity enough to click here and figure out what in the world I am talking about. My to do list is my lifeline. When you are a former baseball coach that is a bi-vocational pastor and high school teacher that works two full time jobs, plus 2 kids and a wife, and you have a hobby of writing, this tells you two things: 1) He still isn’t sure what he wants to be when he grows up and 2) he is a very busy person. My wife jokes that I have an insane memory because I can remember things down to the minute detail if I so choose. The other day I told her I had to write something down in order to remember it and she looked at me funny and joked that my memory was down to that of a normal person. It wasn’t that, however, I just simply have a lot on my plate and I need a to do list to accomplish everything. Today, I want to focus on the first item on that to do list. It simply reminds me to die everyday. I know what you may be thinking; you are positive that I don’t really mean that each and every day, I plan to die. I know you are smart enough to figure out that, since I’m still here, this is a metaphor for something. Well, you are right and you are wrong.
The death I refer to is the death to self that I constantly strive for each and every day. The most common phrase in the gospels is the simple command that Jesus gave to so many people. The two words that define who we ARE or ARE NOT as Christians- “follow me.” We talk abut being believers and we refer to ourselves and others as believers. That moniker is simply not good enough for me anymore. I don’t want to simply be called a believer in Christ, in fact I have started taking offense to that. I take offense to that because we were never called to simply believe, we were called to follow!! Now before you get your bible out and show me where you have highlighted John 3:16, you first need to understand that John 3:16 is the most misinterpreted verse in the Bible (check out my views on this in my article “The Most Dangerous Verse in Bible”). I realize what the scripture in John says and I want you to know that simple belief is NOT what that verse means. Remember, even Satan and the Demons “believed” in Jesus. As for me, I want to be known as a follower of Christ. That was the command given, that was also the command that was turned down by so many and continues to be the phrase turned down by so many in our time. Now for many of you. this is just an exercise in word usage. You follow Christ, you live each day for our Savior. For many, many more, however, I fear that it is not simply an exercise in word choice. I fear that so many of our church going people today are caught in a practice of Churchianity instead of Christianity. The people caught up in this fog, this lie that says a simple head knowledge belief in Christ is all you need to be saved, have trouble following Christ daily. These are the people who will fill the pews on Sunday and Wednesday, but the rest of the week you can’t tell the difference between them and those who have not professed faith in Christ. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Author and teaching Pastor, Kyle Idelman’s book, Not a Fan, addresses this wonderfully and I recommend his book- it’s a terrific read.
The first thing we must do to understand this is to talk about what it means to die to oneself. When Christ tells us that we must deny or die to ourselves, He refers to the process of salvation. When you have accepted Christ as your Savior, the old you, the sinful you, the you that constantly can’t walk the path of righteousness- that person dies and is no more. That does not mean that you will never sin again, but it means that your screw ups will occur moving toward Christ instead of away from Him. This is why the people with only a head knowledge belief are two very different people in and out of church. They struggle to do things pleasing to the Lord, because they spend all of their time trying to please themselves. This is why we have the symbolism of baptism. When I baptize someone and take them under I say, “buried in death with Christ.” I pull them up saying, “and risen again to walk in newness of life with Him.” That symbolism is you dying to yourself and being resurrected as a new self, a follower of Christ.
The process of dying to yourself and following Christ has two applications here. First to those who believe in Christ. Following Christ is not an option. Don’t try to opt out or put it on someone else. Get up and go!!!. Following Christ is an action, its a verb, and we as followers have turned it in to an adjective. We use it to simply describe us, instead of letting it stand for what we are about and what we are doing. The church struggles because we have decided that we are too lazy to follow, because we think God is asking too much of us, or because we have convinced ourselves that God is happy with us sitting on the sidelines being His fans. Christ didn’t call fans, He called followers. It’s not going to be easy, but God never promised us easy- He promised us that it would be worth it. Did you ever wonder why there were only 12 disciples? It is because following Christ is NOT easy. It will challenge us to give things up and to walk away from relationships, even family. I mean, Jesus spends more time talking people out of following Him in Luke 9 than he actually talked into following Him. He wants followers who are all in. It is our duty, it is our responsibility to show people who do not know Christ that it is about Christ, His life, His death on a cross, and His resurrection. It’s called Christianity, not Churchianity.
The second application here is for those who don’t know Christ as their Lord. It is is for those who may have been snowed into believing that all they had to do was say some magic words and the world was good. Salvation is about a sold our commitment to Christ. An all-in attitude where you give up your desires and give up pleasing yourself in order to live for Christ. Salvation comes to those who believe, those who truly believe. This is not a question I can answer for you. This is a status of your soul between you and God, and I am willing to bet you have a pretty good idea which side of the fence you are on. If you only have that head knowledge and was made to think it was enough, I encourage you to see your pastor or come to City View and see me or our Pastor. We are called to completely die to ourselves and follow Him. Are you willing and ready to do that?
Finally, for both groups, following Christ is not easy. The biggest reason people fail is that they want an immediate fix and immediate response. However, it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Following Christ and learning to trust Him daily takes time. You will fall, you will stumble, and you will screw up; the important thing is not to throw in the towel at the first setback. These setbacks are how we grow in our relationship with Christ. So, I encourage you to do what I do, take it one day at a time. That is why dying is at the top of my to do list. Each and every day, I want to spend that day living for Christ and dying to myself. I worry about that day and that day only. Sure you will make decisions that will affect the days ahead, but it begins with winning the first day for Christ. Then you live the next day for Him, and then the next. What will you decide to do with tomorrow? Who will you please tomorrow and who will you follow? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and we will do so, dying…one day at a time.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach