Death. Resurrection. These themes run throughout Christ’s ministry on earth. He ruined a perfectly good funeral. He raised a man who had been dead for three days. He was himself raised from the dead.
Death can be a good thing or a bad thing. Both Jesus and St. Paul talk about how we need to die to self and live for God. We have to put away the things which cause us to be distant from God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship (p. 99):
The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (Emphasis added
Death can also be a bad thing. When we are away from God, we are dead. Christ came to bring life. Seems like a contradiction, but it really isn’t. God wants us to die to the things that make us dead, and live for the things that bring us life.
In what ways do you need to die?
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.