Refresh Challenge: Dead Man Walking

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People often ask, “how much of my old self should I give up in order to be married to this person? What is reasonable and which areas are off limits?” These are not easy questions and many couples struggle to find satisfactory answers. Perhaps there are those who are not yet married because they are not willing to compromise on their freedom and their way of life.

Married or not, we all face similar challenges when it comes to our relationship with God? Generally, we want to connect with God. We want to receive His blessings. We want to know the purpose we were created for. How can we do this in a way that works for us? When it comes to following God – how much is too much?

READ John 12:20-23 NIV

The story begins with some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. Why did they want to see him? Maybe they were curious and wanted to see if he was the real deal. Perhaps they had heard about his miracles and wanted to sign up to be part of his organisation. Perhaps they had issues that they thought He could help them with. Perhaps as sophisticated people, they wanted to add this famous man to their networks; to be seen with him. If it was today, it would have been to take a selfie with him and post on their social media page. Whatever the case, they approached one of the disciples to request for an appointment.

The disciples must have been excited and that’s why Jesus’ reply must have sounded so strange to them. Jesus talked about a kernel or a seed. He picked the most popular crop around, wheat. For this seed to become all that it was meant to be, it must sacrifice itself, and die.

Jesus was teaching that if you want to follow Him and have the life that he intend for you, then you must surrender everything about you to God’s control. Unless you surrender everything to God’s control, God’s purpose for your life will never be fulfilled.

This is the greatest paradox of the Christian life – Unless you die to self, you will never truly live.

The Jewish culture, very similar to our own contemporary African culture, is very squeamish and uncomfortable about death. We don’t talk about death, we don’t think about it, and even when terminally ill, we shy away from writing wills. Death is hard, messy and always painful. It is a rude and uninvited guest. It’s no wonder we don’t like to talk about it or even mention it.

READ Galatians 2:20

There is a dangerous fallacy that our generation has come to believe. It says that we can accept Christ, but choose whether or not to surrender to him our relationships, marriage, career, money, and life choices. My life, my choice!

Jesus teaches that the cost of following Him is total surrender: A surrender so complete that it can only be equated with dying. Dying in this context means that you take all your dreams, desires, plans, habits, relationships, and possessions to God and say, “I surrender it. It’s now under your complete control.”

Unless you die to self, you will never truly live! 

That’s exactly how Jesus lived. He got tired, hungry, cried, and even paid taxes. He had desires and ambitions. Yet He submitted his entire life to accomplishing, not his own desires, but the desires of His heavenly Father. He gave up everything, including his own life, even though it was a difficult thing to do.

We have just a few years here on earth and an eternity somewhere else yet, we are so consumed with time here on earth. The bible teaches that what we do during our stay on earth determines how we exist for millions of years into eternity.

What then does it mean to die to self? Three things come to mind:

  1. Dying To Who I Am (Identity)

When you become a follower of Jesus you are under new management. Who is the ‘you’ that you would find difficult to surrender to God? Maybe its controlpride, bitterness, low self-esteem, a habit or addiction, suspicion of authority, your image or it’s your recreational activity.

  1. Dying To What I Have (Possession)

What is it you have that you would find difficult to surrender to God? Is it money, your career or your business? It could be things you don’t have now but you are working towards – your dreams and aspirations.

  1. Dying To Who I Have (Relationships)

Are there any relationships that you would refuse to leave behind if God asked you? Maybe it’s your spouse, your children, a dating relationship or desire for marriage.  Maybe it’s your attachment to your parents or siblings or to some of your friends.

The call to follow Jesus is not a cheap call. It calls for death; a total surrender to the Lord. It is a call to let go, and let God.

Remember, unless you die to self, you will never truly live! 

Other readings: Luke 14:26-27, John 12:25

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3 Responses to “Refresh Challenge: Dead Man Walking”

  1. I woke up to a ‘bad’ dream yesterday morning. I call it bad because in it were two coffins and deep sorrowful emotions. I couldn’t bring myself to view who was inside but the tormenting sorrow could only be equaled to the pain I felt when I lost my late dad…he is, to date the only person I ever viewed in such a state. My immediate reaction was a long prayer as traditionally taught from the stories I hear…that dreams of coffins call one to condemn the oncoming spirit of death. This however didn’t help to make me feel better but I still nudged myself out of bed and head to church. Worship for me was so so, as my usual energy levels struggled to pick up.

    Then came the sermon. This one got my attention. It made me reflect on how much I yearn to have control over my life …my career, relationships, time, space. How I constantly mourn the loss of my dad whether in words, tears, or just thoughts. Most people say I am a calm person and that is what I strive to be even when faced with difficult situations because it’s a conscious choice I make to stand in that gap. To cut the long story short, I just thought to write about this because the sermon and the true meaning of death to self couldn’t have been made more real than the sight of those coffins in church yesterday. It seemed a lot like dejavu because that sight was still fresh from the dream I’d woken up to. Moreso, that symbol represented the pain and loss of a loved one that had been walking with me. In addition to this was coming to see death in a different light, that because of Jesus’ death on the cross I can have life… That there is real life after the death of my old self that is clouded by identity issues, control over my relationships and career path and family and habits and… its an endless list

    Thank you Pastor M for bringing this message home. Like I said, I am one who shudders at the thought casting my eyes inside a coffin but walking towards one yesterday and seeing my old self being buried away was something most beneficial to me. I’m glad that the fear of loss that I woke up with was taken away by the act of leaving all my worries from that dream and the controlling thoughts at that symbolic grave. It also gave me more sense of life to walk away holding only to what should matter in life- and that’s my relationship with God.

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  2. As the rubber meets the road and the journey gets real…
    Having gone through week four all week and had a very deep meeting with my lovely ( New found friends – thanks to mizizi ) on Saturday, I kind of knew service on sunday will be deep – please read uncomfortable…. infact as we got into the church compound I jokingly told my friend, ‘ let me chill a bit eat something, I have a feeling todays service will be tough because its surrender!

    Eventually, I had to walk in after lots of struggle and sat and kind of got a relief when I saw, what seemed like cabinets at the front covered in white ( holy communion ! I thought….tough but can deal.
    Am literally fighting with fingers which want to tell the end from the beginning but walk with me slowly.

    Pr. M checks in, no wait, the skit! am for the opinion that the girl should keep the phone!, eish the man needs to get hold of himself and have some confidence! its just a phone for heaven sake….in other words, we all have a past so it comes with some memories and what does it hurt to keep a gift really?

    & until dying to self is broken down into manageable pieces and I get to see how much Jesus has to deal with and have some confidence! and get hold of himself! about !! Its just,
    1.pride!
    2.Guilt
    and my image and some addictions here and there
    then my career and children, not to mention my desire to get married and last but not least my friends! wow! its almost everything and suddenly I realize I am not living truly! I have ‘accepted Christ’ but I have control over my life and so I have not surrendered

    Fast forward to the real surrender and the white sheers were unveiled oh dear me! I could not see right! coffin?
    The last I saw, walked to and looked into was my late brother
    Ps been guilty because I have always felt I could have been a better sister and read my lips! Do you know how many years I have carried that shame? guilt, pain and anger?20years!!!

    20 yrs I have been a prisoner of pain, of shame and guilt and as I sat frozen on the seat not sure I had the guts to look into a coffin ( Surrender!) but with trembling hands and tears and choking voice I gathered myself and my sight in the mirror shocked the life out of me, as it hit me how unprepared I am to die,

    This little red portion of the long rope that I hold so dear? this control that I want for this bitter life? whats the point? I dropped the paper and felt hot! like I just lost life…..at least a part of it.

    Now let me give you the icing of the cake!
    I am having a phenomenal week!,
    I feel like a load is off my chest!, I can finally let my brother go! and I can forgive myself and let God be God.

    So I have returned the smart phone to my exe as the skit would have it!
    He can keep it! I have moved on!

    Thanks mavuno

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  3. Delivered. …I feel it in my gut!

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