Philippians 1:21 (NIV) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
There is a worship song by Anthony Brown and Group Therapy called Worth that we sang yesterday in church. It says, “You thought I was worth saving so you came in changed my life. You thought I was worth keeping so you cleaned me up inside. You thought I was to die for so you sacrificed your life. So I could be free, so I could be whole, so I could tell everyone I know.” This song is a summary of my experience with Jesus Christ. Is it yours?
There is something about saying, “You thought I was to die for…” Jesus Christ saw me and decided that I was to die for. The first two lines remind me that I am grateful that Jesus changed my life. He shined a Light of His Love so brightly that I could come out of the darkness that once overshadowed me. I am so thankful that the Lord thought I was worth keeping. Like a piece of furniture tossed in the trash, picked up by someone who saw its potential. Taking home they cleaned it, sanded it down, repainted it and reupholstered it taking the time to make it what it should be again. Now someone’s trash has become someone else’s treasure proudly displayed in fulfillment of purpose as a masterpiece in their home. The Lord has indeed cleaned me up inside. I am not who the world told me I was or facing the consequences my life demanded. No, Jesus thought I was worth keeping.
With all these wonderful and awesome things that God has done through His Son in my life, the most powerful of all is that Jesus Christ thought I was to die for. I keep coming back to this verse and am consumed with the revelation that my Savior and Lord thought I was to die for. How is this even possible to an omniscient God who knows me inside and out? Why would Jesus think that I of all people would be worth dying for? The only thing that I can even slightly compare it to is the love that I have for my children. I would die for them. In fact, as our son battled cancer for three solid years, many times I begged and pleaded with the Lord to remove it from him and give it to me. Desperate to see our son delivered of the pain, suffering and possibility of death, I learned a valuable lesson. Jesus would not allow me to die for something that He already did on the Cross.
I Peter 2:21-25 (NIV) To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Jesus thought I was to die for. He decided to suffer for me. He committed no sin. Even when the very people who He was dying for insulted the Lord, He did not retaliate. He made not a single threat. Jesus trusted God, His Father. The One who judges justly. He bore our sins in His Body on the Cross. Every sin because there is no unforgivable sin or hierarchy chart of transgressions – Jesus died for every single one. His Grace is more than enough for me…and you. He did this so that we could live in right standing with God again. This allows us to be Children of God and be a part of His Kingdom once more. We were predestined to do so. Now we are free to return. By His Stripes, we have been healed. Do you agree? Do you have a sick loved one who is hurting in pain? Do you want to take their burden and ease their misery? You can’t. Even if their sickness fell upon you it would not ease their burden or satiate the misery that they feel, only Jesus can do it. Just Jesus, but we try to do it ourselves day by day.
2 Corinthians 5:13-19 (NIV)
If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Think about this verse again comparing it to your life. I am doing the same. Is my life summated in Jesus? Am I reconciling my life to Christ day by day? I have a confession to make. For a long time, I was a casual Christian. I didn’t want this thing to get out of hand though and turn into a crazy Christian. You know the kind that is over the top. They live in church. Always telling people about Jesus. They don’t do anything fun. The Gifts of the Spirit were cool and I desired all the Fruit of the Spirit, of course. I was not interested in operating in them though. I loved God. Jesus was my Savior. However, I kept it under my control. I made Jesus “Lord” over some areas of my life only to discover that He cannot be Lord without a total surrender. I was in control and fooling myself. I was reconciling my life and coming up short.
I wish I could say it was an epiphany or quiet revelation in my prayer closet that brought me to the place where I surrendered my whole life to reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. I would like to be able to tell you it was not a messy and brutal undoing of me including everything I believed, but it wasn’t. It was the moment that I discovered I had no control that I finally surrendered all control to Jesus. I have been a born again and Spirit-filled believer for more than a decade. I did not begin the process of surrender until about five years ago. I had to be broken to be rebuilt and fully reconciled to Jesus. Now I think people think I am “out of my mind”. Christ’s love now compels me because I am convinced that He thought I was to die for and did just that.
I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. Are you? Maybe if each person who comes to Christ could hear the worship song and its powerful message they might understand that it is nothing we do or don’t do that makes us worthy of His Love. Jesus loves us because He thought I was worth saving and keeping. In our pursuit of the Lord and all the benefits that He offers, it is easy to be misled and fall back into the worldly understanding that nothing is free. Free means that there is a catch. Trust no one. Rely on yourself. Before you quickly discredit these statements thinking that they are not the words from your mouth. Think of the situation in your life that stresses you most. What are you afraid of? Do you lack in any area of your existence? Are you dissatisfied? What are you doing about it? Do you say, “I trust the Lord, but…”? The only reason that I am saved, healed, delivered and restored is because Jesus thought I was worth dying for. I can do nothing to earn it or deserve it but must reconcile my life to it in total surrender and acceptance day by day.
“Not counting people’s sins against them.” Jesus covered your sin in His Blood. The same overflow that reached you is available to every other living breathing human being including the most heinous criminal or abased transgressor. It is not our job or responsibility to reconcile these folks to the doctrinal beliefs of our church but to open wide the doors welcoming all who will come. It is with this new mindset that we will see revival in our churches again. When we embrace the ministry of reconciliation with open arms beginning with the understanding that Jesus thought we were to die for…all of us.
Romans 14:7-12 (NIV)For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Every knee will bow before me, every tongue will acknowledge God. We will all give account for our life before God one day. Are you afraid to die? Do you want to put it off as long as possible? In his declaration, “for me to live is Christ and die is gain”, Paul goes on to explain the inner conflict in his life. He longed to be with the Lord in forever, yet felt compelled to stay and finish his work telling others about Jesus. What does your bucket list look like? Do you have one? What are those things you are putting off for later? What if tomorrow never comes?
In John 11:23-27, we are privy to a conversation between Jesus and Martha, sister to the now deceased, buried in the tomb, and stinking Lazarus. The Lord tells the grieving sister, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha quickly excuses it to the resurrection of the dead on the last day. Jesus presses further and tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die and whoever lives believing in me will never die.” He asked her point blank, “Do you believe this?” She says, “Yes” but her actions tell a different story. She goes to get her sister. Why? She lived for the future Messiah, not the Living God before her.
Please do not think that I am in any way condemning Martha because most days I resemble her more than Mary. Most people will tell you that they believe in God. The God that we meet after death. The Savior who is at the pearly gates whisking us away in His Grace. However, Jesus Christ is the Living God. He wants to meet us in our everyday life because He is alive. He lives in us. We have the same power in us that raised Jesus from the dead. Why are we not seeing miracles? Could it be that our excuse is rational thinking rather than radical faith? To fully reconcile to God through Jesus Christ is to conform our thinking and shape our life around a living God not a soon and coming King. Yes, He is Lord. Yes He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is alive today and wants to come to us in the land of the living giving us a new life today. We all live for something. We are slaves to one of three things: sin, man or God in Christ Jesus. Those who choose to give their life to the One who thought they were to die for will live now and forever. We all serve someone or something in life. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Why? Because He thought I was to die for!
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I leave this thought with you today and pray it will work its way through your soul. Can you guess? You, my friend, are worth dying for! Jesus did it just for you so you could be free and you could be whole so you would let everyone know that His Love is alive today. Our ability to share the Gospel message is contingent our one’s ability to fully accept His Love and believe that it is unconditional and complete. We cannot give something away that we do not have. As I reconcile my life to Jesus Christ, it is not conformity to the Law but rather the mindset of my value and worth to Jesus Christ. I do not see the potential and promise that Jesus sees in me. It is when I place my life completely in the Presence of God and take my hands off of it that I see what God sees in me. He created me. He desires me. He loves me to the point of sacrificing His Son to save me from myself. Who loves you like that here? I venture to say not many. Even in my love and commitment to my husband and children, I will probably never have the opportunity to give up my life for them completely or sacrificially because His Grace is sufficient for us all. Anything that I can do or give them is small in comparison. Jesus died just for you. He thought you were to die for. Shouldn’t we live our life as such?
Colossians 3:2-4 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.