Tag Archives: John 12:24

Being Alive in Christ

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains A-grain-of-wheat-printable-Bible-verse-coloring-page-imagealone; but it dies, it bears much fruit.  John 12:24

I was rereading parts of one of my favorite reads in the last year, We Died Before We Came, by Emily Foreman.  She tells of how she and her husband went to an African country and suffered a loss while they were there.  I don’t want to give away the story line because you should really read it.  Before they went, her husband Stephen shared a story about James Calvert, a missionary to the Fiji Islands in the 1800’s.

The ship captain tried to turn him back saying, ‘you’ll lose your life and the lives of those with you if go among those cannibals.’  To that Calvert replied, ‘We died before we came.’  Stephen went on to challenge his audience, “Are you dead yet?  Dead to your desires?  Dead to fear?  Are we alive in Christ?”

His last question is what jumped off at the page at me this time around.  I have spent much time thinking about what it means to die and have focused some on that.  But I have not focused on the opposite, positive good–living out to a lost and dying world what it looks like to be alive in Christ.

I’m not even sure the Christians around me have a solid grasp of what that looks like.  I don’t mean that as a slam to anyone.  I just mean that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about being alive in Christ.  We talk about what it means to be born again and becoming a Christian.  And then we talk about ‘doing things’ once we become a Christian, like reading our Bibles, praying, going to church, helping people, etc.

But what does it really look like to live out a life that is alive in Christ?  Follow my bread crumb trail of thoughts as I unravel this brain worm of the week…

Verses on being alive in Christ (all NIV):

  • Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  • Colossians 3:3-4  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your  life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
  • Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

So from those verses, I’m alive in Christ by faith, my life is now hidden with Christ in God, I’m to consider myself in my thinking as alive to God because I’m in Christ Jesus, and God made me alive by His grace.

I still was left pondering what my life should look like as an outflow of this.  So here are 5 things that I came up with.  They are from other Scriptures:

  1. Being alive in Christ means that my affections are set on a different place than everyone else’s, and it has to show.  In Hebrews 11 it talks about all of the faith dynamos dying in faith, having not received the things that were promised, but only welcoming them from afar.  Their eyes were on a better country, a heavenly one.  My affections, my eyes, and my passions should be set on a better country, the kingdom of Heaven.  This world is a poor replica of what is to come.  I know that, so my life should reflect it.
  2. Being alive in Christ means that I shouldn’t be stressed out, worried and consumed by the same things as the people who don’t know God.  That’s what Matthew 6:25-33 is about.  The stock market went down by bunches this week.  God is still on the throne.  His eye is still on the sparrow and He still holds me in the palm of His hand.  God still cares for us and His promises still hold true.  So I must live out that trust and confidence in God that shows that I know He is my shepherd.
  3. Being alive in Christ means that I know who holds my future and my eternity.  An ESPN reporter was interviewing Nick Foles the day after the big Super Bowl win.  He was asking Nick about next year, and Nick said he’d let God take care of that.  Nick had been giving God credit all of the way through the interview.  The reporter was either a Christian or else he was overcome by the momentum of this, so he concluded by saying, “Well, I guess you know who holds your future.”  You don’t normally hear that on an ESPN interview.  When you stop and think about the fact that people that don’t know Jesus have no confidence about tomorrow or about their eternity, this is a huge deal that we should be shouting from the roof tops!
  4. Being alive in Christ represents a tremendous life changing transformation.  I am so thankful that Jesus not only changed me and brought into His kingdom–but that He is still at work changing me day by day.  Colossians 1:13-14 says that we are “transferred from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of His dear son, in whom we redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  I just have to go on a business trip for 2-3 days with nonChristians and be with them 24/7 to realize how different my life is from theirs.  Thank you Jesus.
  5. Being alive in Christ represents a change in passions and pursuits.  I read the Bible, pray, go to church, and am involved in ministering to others because Jesus is in my life.  He has changed my “want to’s.”  The movies that people from work get together to go are ones I would never even watch at home for free.  And the books they read in their book clubs are the same–ones I would never read.  Jesus has given me an awareness of others, a desire to help them in place of tunnel vision or a self absorbed lifestyle.

Alive to GodMy challenge is to live these out loud, to verbalize them without being obnoxious.  I don’t know why it has been such a profound thought to focus on being alive in Christ rather than dying to self, but I think I’m on to something!  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

 

*Image from MaryDeanDraws.com

 


A Mayfly’s Life

mayfly  The lifespan of an adult mayfly can vary from 30 minutes to one day, depending on the species.  Do they   wear little t-shirts that read “Born to Die”?

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.