This will be the first of a series of shorter posts in which we break up a longer post into a daily snippet, at the request of some of Beloved’s most faithful readers, who understandably, don’t want to spend all day reading a long treatise on a topic, even though we may enjoy writing them. The full-length post can be read here for those who are impatient, or rather, eager.
I can guarantee this truth: A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce anything unless it is planted in the ground and dies. If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain (much fruit). John 12:24
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
“Sanka you dead?” It’s my favorite quote from Cool Runnings. Every time the bobsled turns over, they ask this poor guy if he’s dead. Well, I feel like this pretty much describes my daily life. I go around asking people if they’re dead yet. Really dead. Let me explain.
In 2016, I went from supermom with a great job, to a blubbering, helpless mess riddled with panic attacks and anxiety, and for very legitimate reasons that I will not expound upon at this time. Suffice it to say, I was a disaster. Jesus healed me by inviting me to be with Him in His presence every day and about a year later I was free…and the freedom keeps coming into greater freedom! I tell that story in more detail here. But what I realized as I sat with Him is that part of the anxiety (meaning “divided mind“) was that I was trying to live like a Christian but I couldn’t fully. Not really. Because I had never completely died. After all, how can someone who has never died be resurrected, or even re-born?
Now this may seem obvious to church-raised Christians, but it is not an easy concept and most certainly is not easy for anyone to actually do. This is the mystery that Yeshua told Nichodemus in John 3. To enter the Kingdom of God, you must be reborn, or “born again,” by water (natural birth and baptism) and Spirit (Jesus gave the Spirit at Pentecost for the first time in Acts 2 and people continue today to be filled by the Spirit in the same way (both with and without tongues)). Nicodemus had a lot to lose. To really follow Yeshua as His Rabbi would have meant giving up his station, platform, reputation, legacy, and money. His career would have been damaged if not destroyed. He would have had to unlearn what he thought was true, and be teachable like a child again, open to rewiring old thought patterns. He would be as good as dead.
And that was Yeshua’s point. Death to self comes before being born again into newness of life. You have to decide to die completely to your old self before you experience coming alive with Jesus (Galatians 2:20). But how much of you have you surrendered to Jesus? Actually.
You know, the heart is deceptively good at compartmentalizing (Jeremiah 17:9). You think you love Jesus? Great! Are you following all of His commandments or just some of them? Because according to Yeshua, this is the test. He said, “If/When you love me, you will obey my commands.” In Hebrew, the word, “Commandments” is better understood as directive, the way a commander commands his troops. They are military orders, they are “the battle plan,” the strategy. In what ways are you holding back from the commands of the Messiah? In what ways have you believed, said, or implied by your actions (or inaction), “well that’s just ludicrous” or “obviously He didn’t really mean that” in response to the words of Christ?
In what tiny corners of your heart to lust and impurity reside, in what small corners of your mind does pride, judgment, and jealousy lurk. In what ways are you hiding all that behind a religious facade? How have you convinced yourself that it’s not your job to disciple the nations as He commanded in the great commission (Mark 16:15)? Isn’t it time to give up the charade? How much territory of your heart has been yielded? Honestly?
You can pretty much tell how much you love Jesus by how much you choose to obey Him. While it is possible to obey without love, you absolutely cannot love someone without developing devotion that impacts action. This is the kind of obedience Yeshua wants from you. It’s loyalty as to a commanding officer. It’s duty at its purest and finest. It’s to willingly lay down your life for Him and His Kingdom because of love. And He does ask it from you. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Would you give up anything for Jesus, since He has already asked it (Matthew 10:39) ? What are you feeling unwilling or maybe unable to part with? And don’t fool yourself thinking He would NEVER ask to have your most precious thing. Come on. Be honest. What are you holding onto besides Him? Be brave and ask Him to show you. We will walk through some of the most common “holdout items” in the next few days.
Sanka, you dead? Yeah mon.