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30 June 2009

Dying vs. Doing

During a discussion with my friend (and our youth pastor at Wall Highway) Tom a couple of days ago, he said something that I found very compelling. Neither concept was unfamiliar. In fact, they're both integral to the life of the person who follows Christ, but I'd not necessarily thought of them as competing concepts. To be sure, they aren't at their core, but often we let one overrule the other in our lives

He said something like this: "Living to serve God daily may not be so much about 'What can I do for you today, Lord?' as, 'How can I die to myself today, Lord?'"

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. - Galatians 4:24-25 (NLT)

There is no wrong in asking God how we can more perfectly serve Him by doing. As a matter of fact, I'm convinced that relatively few followers of Christ do this with enough regularity. However, unless we die to our selfish desires daily by the power of the Holy Spirit -- with intentional effort on our part -- our works are bound to be polluted by what we bring to the table.

That all sounds very churchy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can sterilize the concept so much that we can't relate to it. I've seen "selfish desire" in myself in the the way I guard my time to the point of being rabid about it. Dying to that selfish desire might not be particularly fun for me, because it may involve me physically serving someone when I'd intended to sit on the couch and watch SpongeBob. In that case, "dying vs. doing" may oddly involve both.

In another case, I might be so consumed with a ministry activity or event that once the ball gets rolling I lose sight of its original focus (which had better be seeing Jesus Christ magnified/glorified). I'm convinced that this probably happens more often than not in most organized church activities.

Every personality type will have a different area of self that must die. This sounds awful, but it's probably going to be a slow death: "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2, NLT, emphasis mine)

Transformation is a process far more often than it's an epiphany.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm not sure what to add here. I never thought of dying to self and living for Christ in the same breath before; but you are correct. I think we can get so caught up with 'dying' that we forget to 'Live'. or visa-versa(?)

Anonymous said...

keo sent the last comment

Leroy said...

"Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby talks about this some. Often we wonder why God is working "over there" but not "over here where I am". What are we waiting for? MOVE "over there".

This is where, I think, today's blog post makes the connection to "Experiencing God". In order to move over there and join God, we often have to give up our little bit of comfort.

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