Thinking about the Christian life, we are designed to be like Mayflies probably more than we can understand or want to understand. I’m not talking about physical death, but about what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 15:31 “I die daily.” In John 12:24 we find that if a grain of wheat doesn’t die, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces a whole bunch more wheat. Lofty thoughts maybe, so I’ll apply it to my week and what God brought home to me:
I was in a meeting with some co-workers when my boss turned the discussion to a butt chewing session pointed at me for something I had done or intended to do (question of motives). He moved on and I said, “Whoa, let’s back up a second.” I went on to punch back, perhaps in snotty tone, about how the other two people present were the ones who dropped the ball. My boss went on to pick apart something else I had said, totally missing a much bigger point. The meeting ended, he left for an appointment and I was mad. Over the next day, I contemplated a variety of speeches, responses and only daydreamed about walking away from “the man” and the whole package.
I prayed that God would give me some sort of right attitude or word that would be better than launching a civil war at work. I’ve usually (always) lost those anyway. I opened up a daily devotional the next morning that was about John 12:24-25 and about the kind of death that produces fruit in our lives. It’s not the cross with a big C, but the daily cross of
“a willingness to die to our own interests, our own reputation, our own rights, our own way of doing things, our own comfort, convenience, hopes, dreams and aspirations. To die means to lay it all down. To give it all up. To let it all go. This may seem difficult, perhaps even unthinkable to our own self-protective, individualistic, rights-oriented minds…What was Jesus saying? The only way to gain your life is to give it up. The only way to win it is to lose it…When we choose the pathway of brokenness and humility, we are choosing to let His life flow in us and through us.” from Nancy Leigh DeMoss The Quiet Place, April 10
Okay God, I’m starting to get it. I have to give up my right to be offended and not strike back. Give me the right heart so I can go make this right. I wasn’t quite ready yet, so waited until the speeches in my head got softer. I prayed that God would work it out, but didn’t know what that would like. That afternoon, my boss, a proud nonChristian man, sat in my office and apologized. He acknowledged how wrong he was and how much he valued my work. I sincerely apologized for striking back and having the wrong tone. It was the best talk we’ve had in the decade of sometimes difficult interactions.
God did this, not me. He somehow prompted a man to do something not normal to teach me that giving up my rights and dying to all of those things is really the way to letting God work out bigger things. Loving others really leads to death because it usually means giving up self interests for the greater good. It’s the death of what I want to do, or of my right to do those things. Self protecting, self securing, self pleasing as a way of life stands in contrast to self denial, death to lots of things and letting weakness as opposed to strength be a glory.
In John 21 Peter told Jesus that he was young and could go where he wanted, but one day he would be old and not able to be free and then to die for Him. Jesus was telling Peter that if he really loved Him Peter would be willing to go on a path that led away from self interests and toward death. He didn’t say that because Peter was an irritant to Him, but because Jesus was giving Peter a picture of what his life as a Jesus follower would be. It’s because He loves us and calls us His own that He takes us on the path that goes against self and the world. It takes us straight to the arms of Jesus and to life that is truly life.