My Own Personal Firing LineBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Frankly, I didn't want to die to myself. I have a strong sense of self-preservation. "What good will it do for me to die? Who will replace me? I have big plans. I want to be somebody." Now I find that to continue in my Faith, I come to my own personal firing line every day.
The recent martyrdom of Ethiopian Christians in Libya have some Christians asking themselves, "Would I die for my faith?" Very few American Christians will ever have to answer that question with our lives, so the question is hypothetical. And in the comfort of our own homes, it is relatively easy to answer in the affirmative.
A more pressing and relevant question for me has been, "Would you be willing to die in order to continue your faith?”
I became a Christian when I was 16 years old. After some initial enthusiasm, I didn't let it bother me too much. I was married at 21 and now I've been married for 37 years. But, under my poor spiritual leadership, my marriage shouldn't have made it past 10, or 15, or 25 years. Fortunately after 25 years, with God’s help through a para-church ministry, my wife and I were able to save our failing marriage.
To save your marriage, you have to die
What I've come to believe is that the state of my marriage is a near-perfect reflection of the state of my relationship to Christ. I must be willing to practice my belief with the person closest to me; the person I vowed to love and cherish. If I can't or won't, I have little chance of successfully practicing it with others. I will have lost any credibility that I might have beyond my own home.
So, when Paul says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her," it is not only a teaching about how to love my wife, but how to enter into the faith. The example of Christ is self-sacrifice. When Jesus told Nicodemus that one "must be born again," and when Paul says that we are to become "a new creature," the implication is that we are to die to our natural selves and be re-born as spiritually alive creatures.
If you ask most husbands if they'd give up their lives to save their wife's, they might answer something like, "Sure, if we were in a room and somebody threw a live grenade in there, I'd jump on it to save her life." But, that's never going to happen. What's far more likely is that my wife will want to watch a Jane Austin movie at the same time the big ballgame is on. What then?
I had to come to grips with the fact that my conversion as a 16 year-old was incomplete. I had to be willing to bring myself to my own personal firing line. My natural-self had to die. It was an essential part of entering into the faith.
Frankly, I didn't want to die to myself. I have a strong sense of self-preservation. What good will it do for me to die? Who will replace me? I have big plans. I want to be somebody.
Willing to give it all up for others
In a worldly sense, when Pontius Pilate declared "Ecce homo," he presented a Christ that had been stripped, scourged, and crowned with thorns. He put on display a thoroughly beaten man with no prospects other than to be crucified. A dead man walking. But, in a spiritual sense, he introduced an incredibly powerful man. One who was willing to die for others. A servant-leader in complete self-control. I wanted to be like Him.
To continue in my faith, I must bring myself to my own personal firing line every day. As Paul put it, I'm crucified with Christ. As Jesus put it, I take up my cross daily and follow Him. When my old natural-self dies, I know who I want to replaced me: A spiritually re-born man in whom Christ lives. A man who will produce the fruit of the Spirit. A man who will continue to die to himself every day and put others' opinions, desires, thoughts, and interests (especially his wife's) before his own.
It is a daunting task. God help me