I was driving to church on Sunday morning recently, and my thoughts were of the Lord…His goodness toward me, His outlook on the day, His message in the sermon, and the beautiful day He’d already made. I was sensing joy and gratefulness; His presence was with me in the car the same way a close friend’s presence would be.
But as for me, the nearness of my God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works, Psalm 73:28 (NASB) declares.
As I merged onto the interstate highway, the Lord’s words appeared like a banner across the corner of my windshield, as His voice highlighted them in my spirit. “Would you die for Me?” He asked. Our conversation had been one of two close friends up to this point, and as one Friend to another, He asked if I would be willing to die for Him.
Isn’t our focus always on the fact that HE died for US? That’s the crux of the Gospel of Christ—the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection for US. The assurance of eternal life, heaven, pearly gates, streets of gold—the whole spectacular package is the reward, but our death for HIM is rarely the main thing we think about at our point of salvation.
As we journey on with Jesus, dying for HIM is not too much of a focus unless we find ourselves on a mission field in Nigeria, for instance, where martyrdom is tragically commonplace for Christians, whether men, women, or children. The forces of hell bear down on people of faith, and physical death is often their end.
The Lord’s words, “Would you die for Me?” reverberated through my spirit. I saw them as the tip of an iceberg, for there are so many ways we can die for Jesus. Physical death is the ultimate sacrifice, and there is a special place and reward for martyrs in Heaven. But the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:31 said, “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I DIE DAILY.”
There is a death of our fleshly, carnal nature that should occur every day as we yield ourselves to Christ’s desires, not our own. We choose NOT to die daily to Christ when we forge ahead with our own plans for the day without giving Him even the slightest chance to interject what He may want us to accomplish in the day He’s given us. The more we surrender our time and schedules to Him, the more we die to ourselves and live to fulfill His plans and purpose for our lives.
Schedules and to-do lists are great, but dying to Him means that we are ready, at a moment’s notice, to change them for Him. When you truly love someone, what pleases them becomes more important than what pleases you. Jesus said, “I do nothing on My own but say only what the Father taught Me. And the One who sent Me is with Me—He has not deserted Me. For I always do what pleases Him” (John 8:28-29 NLT).
The daily challenge is to be so focused on pleasing the Lord that we look for ways to surrender our plans for the day to His plans; our schedules and desires, for His. That is how we die daily without being executed or tortured. God has not called most of us to that level of sacrifice, however, He has called us to surrender every aspect of our lives to His Lordship—our time, talents, money, livelihoods, families, homes, vacations, educational pursuits, marriages, friendships—everything, to Him.
“Would you die for Me?” It’s a question He asks all of us. May the Lord help us every day to die for Him, on some level, that we might do only those things that please the Father.
© 2023, Chris Custer Werre