And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25)
The call to discipleship is the call to the crucified life. The only way to spiritual fruitfulness and fulfilling God’s commission and will is the crucified life.
The answer isn’t more giftings or anointing, because God is already working among us.
We need death.
Think of Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
A committed life will not cut it. Only a crucified life will. A dedicated life will not cut it – only a deceased disciple can!
We have watered down what the Christian faith is. We often say that there are believers, and then there are disciples. But the Bible never makes that distinction: There are only disciples of Jesus.
In Biblical times, to follow Jesus was to be cut off from their community. They were seen as a cult, they gave their lives. When we give our lives to Christ, that’s what it looks like.
A BAPTISM SERVICE IS A FUNERAL SERVICE
The crucified life is Discipleship 101. This is what baptism means: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?”
A baptism service is a funeral service! So when you’re put into that water, you’re buried – you’re dead!
We are baptised to be raised into the glorious resurrected life, fulfilling God’s purpose and nothing else. We are lifted up to live out God’s fullness.
So it’s not about commitment, its about crucifixion. Not dedication, but death to self. Not being driven by a call but being driven by the cross.
The crucified life is not a balance between God’s agenda and mine. It is a complete eradication of my own ambition. No longer my agenda but Christ’s!
And there’s no such thing as being “a little” crucified. Either you are crucified, or you are not. Either you are dead, or you’re not. If you’re half-dead, you’re not dead!
Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies!
There’s no middle ground when it comes to death. The crucified life is not a balance between God’s agenda and mine. It is a complete eradication of my own ambition and agenda. No longer my agenda but Christ’s!
It’s not a compromise between what I desire and what God wants. It’s not about me anymore.
GO AND DIE
The crucified life is about coming to a tomb, looking at the tombstone, and seeing your very name carved on it. Each time we have a problem in the Christian life, all we have to do is come back to the tomb and remember we are dead!
A dead man is never afraid. A dead man is never offended. A dead man cannot be hurt by anyone.
It’s not about you and me: It’s about Christ, and what He desires. So every time your will and God’s clashes, just die. Every time you are stung by criticism – just die again.
God says … Go and die.
Because when we keep coming back to our own crucifixion on the cross, the life of God in us grows!
There’s no middle road. Either you are crucified in Christ and Christ is living in you, or you’re not walking the crucified life.
THE CRUCIFIED LIFE IS ABSOLUTE
After 40 years of full-time ministry, I’m back again at the basics.
We’ve gone through all the studies, and I’m not belittling them – most of us are educated beyond our intelligence – but I find that no matter what happens, I come back to the bottom line. I come back to the revelation on the Cross.
There, nothing is complicated. There’s a solution for every problem at the Cross. It solves every problem.
“I can’t stand my wife, she’s so naggy!” Just die again. “I don’t feel like loving her!” No problem, just die to self.
Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone!
Death is the most liberating experience. In death we have the resurrected life.
Commitment alone won’t cut it. There are people who are determinately committed to a cause … But they fail. They run out of steam. They give up.
Only a crucified life cuts it. It’s not just a commitment to the cause, it’s a commitment to the Cross.
God has begun to show me what the crucified life is about. Death is the most liberating experience. In death we have the resurrected life. The crucified life is absolute.
THE CRUCIFIED LIFE IS EXTREME
The crucified life is giving yourself to doing God’s will no matter what it is – no matter what it costs.
Many pastors and theologians are very scared of the word “extreme”. People tend to say, “Be careful, don’t go to the extreme”. But did you know there are two sides to “extreme”? There’s a good extreme and and a bad extreme!
And did you know that the Cross of Jesus Christ is extreme? That the love shown at the Cross is extreme?
That the Creator of Heaven and Earth would come as man – that’s extreme! That He would empty Himself, be obedient even to the point of death – that’s extreme.
God has never called us to be a moderate Christian. He never said, “Love me moderately”. No, what does the Bible say? Love the Lord your God with all your heart. All that you have.
His love for us is extreme. So our love for Him must be extreme, too.