Will people remember Christ when I die?
It was almost one year ago that I posted this thought on Instagram. During these past months, God has used this time to walk me through this question that He put in my heart, and live out the answer in many areas of my walk. It was not easy, nor am I done working and wrestling through this truth- but it has helped me comprehend the purpose of my life as a believer in Jesus.
Here is the essential point of what I've learned:
The best way to assure that people remember Christ at your funeral, is to die to yourself before you ever hit the grave.
We've heard this time, and time again:
"The old man must die!"
"Kill the flesh!"
Both these statements tend to be associated with turning away from our past, or fighting off sexual sin and temptation. And though those things may be true (and essential), dying to oneself is more that not falling into old vices, or keeping your body pure.
Dying to yourself is an everyday walk to Calvary. It is looking at the example of Christ crucified, and then taking up your own cross, and joining Him in His death.
Here is the most important part: The way you die to yourself is by LIVING in Jesus!
Why? Why is living in Christ equal to dying to oneself?
Because we are self-serving by nature.
The human heart, depraved and broken, cannot grasp the Godly concepts of grace and mercy. It's idea of justice is corrupt. Holiness is beyond it, and righteousness is done only out of convenience or for incentive.
Think about it. Our hearts struggle to wrap our minds around the concept of "turning the other cheek". We ask God if we REALLY have to forgive after the third or fourth time. We whine about being corrected, and lash out at those whom wrong us. Our flesh doesn't find joy in the pursuit of purity, and we only serve IF it benefits us in some way, shape, or form.
Our hearts are selfish. We do not want to serve anyone other than the "ME-god". And by the nature of the Fall (Romans 3), we never could serve God earnestly and faithfully...
When Jesus died and rose, He did it in order to give us new hearts; able to not only understand grace- but live it out. And just like our bodies, our souls cannot sustain two hearts, one of these have to go. Jesus speaks on this in the Book of Luke:
He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:36-38 ESV)
What is the new wine?
It is the blood of Christ Jesus, spilled for those who would believe in Him, that cleanses us and give us eternal life!
What are the new wineskins?
It is the new heart implanted within us, paid for by Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, so that we would be able to live in Him.
Our hearts must be made into new wineskins! The old wineskins (old heart) would be destroyed by the New wine! It cannot handle the rich grace of God- nor does it want to, as we see later on in the same passage:
And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” (Luke 5:39 ESV)
The old heart rejects Christ for it's own pleasures. The new one depends on Him for sustenance.
Just like we could not live in Him if He didn't die for us, He cannot live in us if we do not die. And, just He did 2000+ years ago, it is He who will rise and raise us with Him, for His ultimate glory and our ultimate good.
Now how does dying to ourselves look like practically?
I've learned that dying to one's self means fighting to do all the things Christ calls us to do, that our flesh, by nature, rejects.
I'm not just speaking about praying, reading scripture, and being in community- though that is the foundation. I mean putting others before ourselves. Suffering wrong. Serving those who hate you. Loving those whom you feel deserve wrath. Praising God when you want to yell about your circumstances. Being silent and still when confusion and anxiety surrounds you. Trusting God's sovereignty in the midst of losing control.
It is believing God's word over that of your own feelings and logic. It is living out of the sacrifice that Jesus made for you, and thereby, willingly sacrificing your desires and your ego for the sake of making Him known- and not you.
We must join Christ in His death, by carrying our own crosses daily, and putting to death the old heart- so that the new heart, in Christ Jesus, may pump the blood of eternal life that now flows within us.
We then must live in Christ Jesus in such a way, that when people look to us- the first thing they see is Him. And when you do finally commend your spirit to Him, the last thing they will think about is not you going into the grave- but Christ coming out of it.