For What Purpose Will YOU Die?
Thursday LATE Night, December 27, 2002
Inevitable Call of the Grave
Except for that fortunate generation that will “be caught up with Him in the air,” each man and woman and child WILL die a physical death. Maybe it will “hurt real bad,” or perhaps it will be silent and swift. Perhaps you will outlive your children, or they may instead bury you. Regardless of method or timing, physical and total departure regardless of what is left undone—is rapidly approaching for all of us. It’s true, and what is true is best known and understood and accounted for in the decisions of our daily lives.
If you are amongst those who live “in denial” and will not willingly face the evil in the world, the pain in the world, disappointment, chaos, unhappiness…and death…it’s time to Grow up. It is only in driving forward “resolutely towards Jerusalem” and His Destiny in us that we can be Useful to the Cause and Purpose and Person of Jesus Christ.
“IF we will willingly share in His suffering, we may then share in His Glory” (Romans 8:17).
“No man is greater than his Master. If they hated Me, they will hate you also” (John 15:20).
“Woe to you, if all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).
We FACE the Truth
And so, we do not hide from pain and difficulty and unfairness, but embrace these visitors as one possible mark of Intimacy with Him and Promise from Him. “Denial” and avoidance are an empty game of the cowardly and fearful—not the Path of disciples of Jesus. The Enemy’s deceit and accusations towards Jesus’ men and women, the threats and power plays of the Enemy’s pawns and puppets are to be expected IF we are about the Father’s GENUINE business. Certainly, the marks of placebo cultural religious exercises and hobby are the daily pursuit of “acceptable” pleasure and comfort, and pursuit of our own personal business as a way of life. These who do not Know Him will order their lives by the cliché, “God, family, and religious hobby.” They will, and do, treat God’s Work and Together-Life in His “daily” Body (Acts 2:42-47; 1Cor. 12; Heb. 3:12-14) as no more than a social outing, on their own schedule. They will act as if His Truths are simply stimulation for the mind—a New York Times crossword puzzle of words and ideas and numbers. These are without awe of the Words of God, and therefore there is no felt compulsory obedience or responsibility for others. Christianity, His Church and Purposes are a game we play—a “plug-in” into the program of our personal lives, added to enhance our experience in some social and philosophical way. However, when our life’s only focus and goal is pleasing and serving and representing HIM, as was true of the First of our Tribe, Jesus Christ, then and only then will we find death imminent day by day, as all Faithful are promised to experience.
Many think that by refusing to risk, refusing to challenge that which is not, refusing to think or care, refusing to turn full face towards the Truth with open hands… many believe they can thusly evade the death cost of “life that is truly Life.” Some honestly believe, through squinted eyes as they read Holy Writ, that they might acquire the Pearl of Great Price for a rationalized tithe of a tithe of a tithe of life. They consider themselves complete and sufficient, if only they can point to the fact that they are being weekly sprinkled with evangelical “holy water” of “attending” a religious garage sale, flea market, or a circus or theater performance. And, OF COURSE, we know that this is not what Jesus demonstrated “Christianity” would be. “Anyone who claims to be In Him, must walk as Jesus walked” (1Jn. 2:6). Not simply “believe what Jesus taught.”
And so, death is inevitable for ALL who love Him and actually live FOR Him. Threats, rejection, hatred, accusation, and pressures towards death are Biblically inescapable for those who represent Him properly in daily life.
We know, as the sands slide quietly through the narrow throat of the hourglass, those rushing sands whisper the same message regarding the brevity of life to all—whether disciple of Jesus, or not. The passing of time will lead all rapidly towards physical death. There is no reasonable denial. There is no hiding—that will not cost us more than we have saved by this denial. “While all die, not all really live.” We choose. By definition, this is not an “extra” choice if we are truly a Disciple of Jesus (Lk. 9:57-62), a Christian (Acts 11:26). If truly Twice Born, each of us has chosen a life that is costly, enlightened, and sacrificial—if saved, we are “doulos” and slaves “bought for a price”—“the precious Blood of Jesus.” A Saved human, saved by Jesus’ costly Death and Way, has chosen a Life fraught with risk, by definition, according to Jesus Himself. “Daily taking up our cross,” we sacrifice what all “mere men” (1Cor. 2-3) count precious. Others, devoid of His Spirit, or shaming and grieving His Spirit, will instead take the road most traveled: choices and affections and relationships filled with the lukewarmness of world-loving self-life, preoccupation with trinkets and mirrors, and shallow rationalizations—stumbling as they play and pretend in the grey twilight, only a step from oblivion.
We mustn’t live in denial of that which is inevitable: “It is appointed to man once to die, and then to face the Judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Okay. We’ve got that said. Awake! We must all stand wide awake to what is and what must be and what shall be! Death is near to all. It is friend, not foe, when we are His, of course. This, then, explains a true Disciple’s willingness to face death for Him and in Him. Still, aren’t many (with or without Jesus) willing to step out of denial and face death? Are not the sonnets of the centuries filled with such stories of those who will face death without denial? With awareness of such lofty issues as life, and such inevitable matters as death, isn’t it true that some will cry with clarion call, “I am willing to die! I face death with eyes ablaze, chin jutted, and fist raised to the sky!”
Let’s consider that for a moment, together. What kind of man or woman would face death and not turn away? Perhaps there are four kinds of mortals who are not in denial, nor cowards in the face of death. Who are these four kinds of men and women and youth?
What Kind of Man or Woman Will WILLINGLY Face Death?
The careless man. He will willingly die. This man, drunk on pleasure or lust, frivolity or irresponsibility shouts, “Eat, drink, and be merry—for tomorrow we all die! Of course we will die, but we fear not! OUR God is a God of L-uhhhh-vvvvve, and nothing will happen to us. We all attend a yellow submarine—the Temple, the Temple, the Temple, Peace, Peace.” This man or woman has persuaded himself that all must be well, and that consequences and truths do not exist if they do not wish them to exist. They will die with eyes open wide, unwilling to acknowledge the reality of the Message and Commands and Opportunities in Jesus Christ. “They have a form of godliness, but deny the Power.”
A second kind of man or woman is also willing to face death and die.
The man of hatred. This man, empowered by rage, drunk on ambition or movement, guided by hatred of what (or who) he believes he is against, is willing to “die in battle.” In the depths of his heart, he simply despises himself—and his heroism is often no more than the despairing of his own empty life and hypocrisy. This macho man is quite willing to “die in battle.” Envy, anger, hatred, and other such animals crawl mercilessly under his or her skin, and throb for release from their bondage. For such a slave, it will be death, or Jesus Christ—one or the other. And which shall it be, “the frying pan into the fire” of seeking release for pain in sin? Or will it be abandoning ourselves into the Grace and Truth and Life of Jesus Christ? The answer lays in how any human answers this question: “Will you have THIS Man Jesus Christ over you, to be your King?” To those tormented by their inner egos and demons, a “courageous” death has an appeal. They think to themselves, often without even knowing it, “I can appear to have gained meaning and status by risking my life.” Hatred, in many, has already stolen the spark of life—leaving nothing to truly risk. This second man or woman will “risk their life” for their cause, or even randomly in foolish choices.
Now, this third man or woman will also step out of denial and personal comfort, and risk their lives. This third common sentiment and instinct of a man has fueled the ovens of war for millennia…
Many can be willing to raise the sword and die—if they knew they would die if they did not. These would risk death to defend themselves from another death that might have been imposed upon them from elsewhere. This is not courage, but defense of self, an animal protection mechanism. We find in this “carnal heroism” category those who are willing to die in defense of geographical dirt, or pagan political ideology. Men will readily die, pumped to the gourd with blind obedience by “basic training” brainwashing, and by the pummel of marching songs, guilt, fear, pride, and emotional ploys. Men will be programmed by others, or self-inspired to die for water rights, land rights, for someone else’s oil, for an illusion of wealth or power or “paradise,” or for any number of “civilian affairs” unrelated to the Spirit and Truth. Nations rise and fall by the success or failure of its leaders to sing the song well to inspire chest-thumping by its young men, when the young ones have not even truly been informed as to the reality of the hidden motives and mission. For those who are not in Christ Jesus and will not love Him or obey Him, this is a way to bring “meaning” to their lives. Thousands and millions will perish forever from the earth, trained to jump at the cadence of someone else’s drum, and think it heroic to do so. Simon says, “Shoot, on my command.” Simon says, “Raise your hands.” Simon says, “Give your money.” Simon says, “Shake the hand of your neighbor.” Simon says, “Repeat after me.” I comment not on the validity of such a choice, or lack of validity, for those who are not Spirit-filled Disciples of Jesus. Perhaps this is all fine for them. Such men, willing to die in this way, do exist.
Ahhh…and then this. The Life and Death of Jesus of Nazareth, worn in heart and soul by some few Wayfarers:
Man with his burning soul
Has but an hour of breath
To build a ship of Truth
In which his soul may
Sail on the sea of death
For death takes its toll
Of beauty, courage, youth
Of all but Truth.
Some very VERY few are those who would die willingly for love of the Man Jesus, and a cause of His Truths (which He personifies as “the Word” and “the Truth” and “the Way”). These Special Ones, His Elect, would consider betrayal of His love and Truth to BE death, and far more vulgar than mere physical death. In living for Him regardless of cost there is no real risk. With no earthly reward in sight, with no applause sought, these men and women in the Spirit and Together-Life of the Son of God will die FOR Him and IN Him. If prophecy in the Bible regarding your lifetime is True, those in love with Him and obedient to Him will risk dying a criminal death, by simple unyielding Faithfulness to His Word and Ways. Clandestine hand-holding between the Romans (the secular government) and the Religionists (the accepted cultural expression of religion) will plot for the Body what it conspired against its Head, Jesus of Nazareth. A Faithful man or woman will always find themselves, as Jesus promised, rejected by most. “Woe to you if you are not hated by those with something to lose, and accused by those who choose to not bow their knee to the King in daily life.”
True Christians, Jesus said and demonstrated, will be indicted by a conjured (and remarkably “believable”) testimony from those who seek revenge as an outlet for their own plagued consciences. Fear and jealous rage will make your existence unacceptable to those with something to lose—if you REALLY love Him and obey Him in your workplace and family and neighborhood. The accusers’ true ulterior motives for wanting you harmed or silenced are covered with the smoke screen of the noble cause, in God’s service. Often their motives are, in reality, protecting their own empires or wages. Sometimes it is their pride alone that justifies, to them, the killing of anything or anyone which lovingly would pull the shroud and expose their fouled consciences. Of course, this aspect is seldom seen by the rest of the religious hierarchy, or by the religious masses. If we sing loudly enough, wave our arms, and crank the percussion, all the hard stuff “goes away.” A polygraph test would reveal they truly believe you ARE worthy to be burned at the stake, literally or figuratively through libel and slander and creative “punishments” and collusion. These, with something to hide or protect, are honestly convinced they would be “doing God a favor” by extinguishing you—or attempting to cripple you through this slander and gossip. Jesus prophesied over and over again in His physical lifetime here that this hatred and these attacks would surely take place against those who truly live for Him.
“Do not weep for Me, but for yourselves and for your children. For if men do these things when the Tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31).
If the “Tree” the Firstborn has planted—the Life of Heaven come to earth—is so despised when it is so young, said Jesus… how much more will the world hate a Church in maturity and seasoned Christ-Life? As “the Bride makes herself ready” for the Return of the Groom, the dragon’s hatred and attacks are every bit as deceitful and violent, according to Jesus, as they were towards Him.
Nevertheless, those ablaze with His Life and Love, buried in the daily Life of the “pillar and foundation” of Ekklesia and Koinonia, with Reason to “live and move and have their being”…will press on. These will forfeit or water down NO Truth to accommodate “the lowest common denominator” of worldly christendom—since all Truth is inseparably part and Life of Jesus and His Father (John 1). Those in love with Jesus more than in love with themselves and this “wicked and adulterous generation”…will “stand firm in the Spirit, contending as One Man for the Faith of the Message without being frightened in any way by those who oppose them. This is a Sign that the accusers will be destroyed, but that you will be Saved—and that by God” (Php.1:27-28).
In the footsteps of their Master and Friend, Jesus, those “in Christ” will willingly forfeit their pleasures, reputations, securities and relationships, as He did, for Truth and Love of the Father. His Volunteer Tribe, “of the Faith of Abraham” and born by His Transfiguring Spirit, have left all for Jesus. A true Christian will risk even physical life itself—for a Man they have not yet met face-to-face, and for His Truths which they will not argue for self-justification. Hallelujah.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives, even to the cost of death” (Revelation 12:10-11).
Yes, and Amen. THAT is Jesus. THAT is Christ-ianity. That is the Life of the local Church, in Christ, “Daily” and Together “from the least to the greatest.”