When God invites individuals to join Him, the invitation is always one to “come and die.”
Funny how we don’t put that on the back windows of our cars. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you life” makes a far superior bumper sticker than “God loves you and wants you to die.”
This truth out of context sounds awful.
Luke 9:23-24 (NLT) is rather explicit on this truth: “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.'”
See what I mean? Come and die.
T. Austin Sparks (British Evangelist who physically died in 1971) said that the invitation is actually to recognize that we are already (spiritually) dead.
We have not to die; we are dead. What we have to do is to accept our death… [In] baptism… we simply step in there and say, “That position which God has settled with reference to me is the one which I now accept, and I testify here in this way to the fact that I have accepted God’s position for me, namely, that in the Cross I have been brought to an end.’
God’s love is absolutely beyond glorious and good and should make us smile bigger than any of the goofy bumper stickers imply . God’s love is not limited to my happy, well-behaved shell-of-a-self that skips through days with a grin. God’s love reaches down past the happy surface into the deepest and darkest places and brings cleansing and restoration to my decay, brings life to my death.
Perhaps my rejection of a gospel that sounds only a smidge more powerful than Bobby McFerrin is due to the fact that I know the stench of my own decay and know that anything less that a radical solution to my hopeless reality is just a bumper sticker.
Jesus Christ conquered death and sin. Jesus Christ calls me out of a grave and into the embrace of abundant living in His eternal family. God’s love expressed in the life and death and resurrection of His only Son Jesus does make me smile, but never as a candy coating over my tears, never as a chemical high to forget my fear.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
–Romans 12:1 (NLT)