A friend of mine told me one time of an experience he had in a hospital. His father in law had had a massive heart attack and was in critical condition, awaiting a heart transplant. While they were standing outside in the hall, all of a sudden a cluster of doctors and nurses wheeled a gurney with a man who apparently was in critical condition. The nurses and doctors were giving each other the worried look that indicated he probably wouldn’t survive.
As my friend and his family gathered in the waiting room they began to pray that God would deliver a heart to their father in law and that he would survive. After they prayed my friend walked down the hall to get a drink and noticed something that jarred him. There, in another waiting room, was the family of the man who had just been brought in, also praying. He leaned towards the door and heard a small part of their prayer: “Lord, please, don’t let Jim die from this. Please help him survive.” They later found out that the man in critical condition had the same blood type as their father in law, and if that man died, he would get his heart.
Tragically, the man on the gurney died. But the bright side was that my friend’s father-in-law was able to take his heart, and because of that survived.
Someone had to die in order that another might live.
Death sometimes gives way to new life.
Jesus taught that there is something in all of us that needs to die so that something better, truer, you-er, might live. “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24)
There is something about the human heart that gravitates towards self-preservation, safety, and security rather than towards life. We hold onto things by which we feel validated, important, and powerful. We trade joyful and content lives for lives lived in fear of losing the thing from which we draw our identity. Sometimes its a relationship with someone, sometimes its a job, sometimes its a talent or skill that people have always validated us for, sometimes its a reputation. This is the ‘false self’ … the ‘self’ that we have constructed in our minds that we have to live up to, and that if we don’t we have no value. This is the self that must die.
Simply put, until our grip on the things of this life is released, we will never be satisfied and nothing will ever be enough.
Paul said it this way: “now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.” (Rom. 7:6)
There is a new way to live that isn’t the way of slavery to your own expectations or pressures you put on yourself. There is another way to live rather than being a slave to your false self.
Someone in us must die so that the other might live.
The way of Jesus claims that when Jesus was nailed to the cross, our false selves where nailed to it with them. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul says, “and I no longer live, but Jesus Christ now lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and offered himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
You don’t have to continue living to please the false self. It is not true. It is a shadow-you. Though its voice will often return to lure you back to the slavery of the old way of life, through faith in Christ you are a new person the moment you trust that the false self was crucified with Christ.
Freedom and life is yours for the taking if you will stop trying and start dying.