I have been asked several times throughout my spiritual journey by many different people: “Would you die for Jesus?” Each time it was a postlude to a real life tragedy where someone is murdered. Several school shootings have had some type of narrative, where someone was asked the second before they were murdered, do you believe in Jesus? Another scenario plays out in the Islamic terrorist and their encounter with Christians just before a massacre and I will get that question? If someone was holding a gun to your head and you were asked if you believed in Jesus knowing your answer would get you killed, would you denounce the name of Jesus? While it sounds brave and romantic, I can honestly say I have no idea what I would say if someone held a gun to my head. I think I would tell them whatever they wanted to hear so I could get out alive. Using the precedent set by Simon Peter I believe that Jesus would understand that my will to live is greater than my devotion of announcing my loyalty to a lunatic holding gun to my head. Some of us fear death and that I believe is a natural humanistic instinct. And if we do not fear death most of us would like to prolong it as long as we can. However dramatic it might seem, that is not what Jesus meant when he talked about giving up our life for Him. It’s about remembering, especially at this time of year, that God creates life out of death, nothingness and hopelessness. The Bible is rich full of such paradoxes where Jesus tells us those who try to keep their life will die but those who give up their life for others will live. We are used to thinking and understanding life in terms of fixed beginnings and ends. When we die, what is communicated to the public in our obituary is the day we were born, the beginning, and the date we died, the ending. We all share a beginning and an end. What makes us unique is what we do in-between the two. However the story of Jesus calls us to throw away our old categories and embrace God’s larger vision of eternal life that begins here and now. When we speak of eternal life, most of us think, that it begins when we die. But in reality it is happening right here and now. Death is a topic our tradition really doesn’t spend too much time on. We think about it only at funerals, when we reality of death is in front of us, or during Lent, when we focus on the death of Jesus. And if we are totally honest, death and dying are not just an enthusiastic, up lighting feel good topic to discuss. If we are able to give up our fear of death, we have the potential to live a more enjoyable life now. Simply put if we don’t fear death we gain more life. Join us this Sunday as we continue our journey through Lent as we examine was to give up our fear of death so we have a greater life now.
Peace, Grace, and Happiness