In 2004 well known United Methodist Pastor, Rev. Jim Harnish wrote a book entitled, “You Only Have to Die” in which he recounts his near-death experience due to a heart attack. The experience put life in perspective for him in a way that not only changed the way he lived but also his congregation, Hyde Park United Methodist Church.
This week in worship we will focus on the death of Jesus as we end our series, “The Jesus I Never Knew.” It seems odd to focus on Jesus’ death as we are preparing for Thanksgiving and Advent and we are still half a year away from Lent. As hard as it is to focus in a time where we are not anticipating Easter a few days away; it is important to meditate on Jesus’ death outside of Lent and work toward understanding what it means for each of us on a daily basis.
In the book of Luke Jesus tells his disciples that in order to save their life they must lose it. He writes, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Jesus is not calling for a mass grave but is inviting his disciples into the spiritual discipline of “dying to self” as my father would call it.
When I first met my dad as a teenager I remember staying with him for four days. Each morning I would come downstairs to find him on his knees using the couch as an altar. When I asked what he was praying for he said that each morning he starts the day, “dying to self.” He gets on his knees and prays that the day before him would be for the glory of God and that any selfish ambition that would get in the way of it would be released.
For my dad, “dying to self” was a way of humbling himself and keeping his priorities straight.
This week I wonder what it would mean for you to “die to yourself.” What is it in your life needs to die so that you can truly live? Maybe a bad habit? Possibly negative self-talk? Maybe gossip? Possibly resentments?
This week God wants us to live the life that Christ died for us to have!
Let’s do it by following Christ example and dying to ourselves so that God may be glorified and we may be saved from ourselves daily!
See you on Sunday!