As we paused last week to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I was reminded of this powerful statement of his and it begs the question: What would we die for?
The Lord Jesus said that He would die for his friends and He did. Jesus said He would die for the redemption of mankind and He did. As the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus knew exactly why He was alive.
Jesus said to those of us who are His followers, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel's will save it" Mark 8:35. With these words, Jesus tells those who follow Him exactly why we are alive.
We are alive to lose our lives in the service of Jesus and in the spread of His Gospel. We are alive to allow Jesus to overshadow our egos and pride, and to make our lives something that project His glory and not our own. We are alive to allow the word "I" to decrease in our vocabulary and to allow the word "God" to increase in our vocabulary. "I" didn't do this, but "God" graciously opened the door for this to take place. "I" am not responsible for all the success and achievements of my life, but "God" did this in and through me by His grace. You get the idea!
When I was a 21-year-old student at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1970, I had no idea why I was alive or what my purpose in life was. I freely admitted this to everyone around me. And it was eating me up. I asked myself why should I go on living if I don't even know why I wake up in the morning? But then--when I met the Lord Jesus--suddenly I knew why I was alive! I was alive to be a tool in the hands of God to point people to His glory and majesty--pure and simple. And since I came to Christ, I have never again wondered for a single minute what my purpose on earth is!
And I know this is real, because I would die for Him. I have thought about being kidnapped and having my head placed over a log with a machete-wielding person threatening to cut it off unless I recant my faith in Jesus! Of course, no one knows for sure what they would do in such a moment, but my plan would be to start speaking to those around me about how their souls can be saved, and to go out of this world with the name of Jesus and the words of His Gospel on my lips. With God's help, this would be my great privilege. Knowing that I would happily die for Christ lies at the heart of knowing, as Dr. King said, why I am living--for Him!
Most of us as Christians in America will probably never have the opportunity to proactively die for Jesus. But we do have the opportunity every day to live for Jesus, and to speak up for Jesus and His saving Gospel, even if it means ridicule, ostracism, and opposition. My dear Christian friends, if we proclaim that we would die for Jesus, then let's make sure that, with God's help, we live in a way that is consistent with that claim!