Verses to Read Beforehand

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

— Romans 6:5

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

— Jn. 12:23–26 (emphases mine)
(similar sentiments in Mt. 10:39 and Mt. 16:25)

Opening thoughts/Questions & Context

For the longest time, I’ve always been puzzled as to what the Matthew passage could mean. How is it that when we seek to lose our life, we gain it? In light of the second part of the ABC passage for this week (Part 1 is here), the giving up our lives to gain is finally begins to make sense.

My attention to this passage was aroused by a reading through of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity which brought up some excellent points.

In Light of the Semester Verse…

In addition, now having the semester/theme verse what it is: for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phl. 1:21), and now the Romans passage, I’ve certainly had some exposure to (and opportunities to think about) this idea.

C.S. Lewis’ Views and Then Some

First, what C.S. Lewis had to say: [Note: Part of the original text can be viewed at the bottom]

Death as a Gateway to New Things

In order to grow, or progress, we must cease being what we are now and become what we are striving to become. A seed, to bloom, must die in its identity as a seed in order to become fruitful and yield many seeds. In the same way, a newly saved man must crucify his old self, his sinful desires, his desires of the flesh, and repent from his sinful ways in order to become a healthy Christian and bear fruit, to become the creatures we were meant to be. This is one aspect of death being a good thing.

Death is to be with Christ

The first and most literal benefit to an equally literal death is discussed in my post regarding the ABC passage containing the semester verse. In a nutshell, it is to die to go be with Christ, to go home, to go to heaven (assuming you have been saved through faith by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ).

Death as a Gateway to New Life in Christ

Most Christians, myself included, understand this to an extent. This is what I’d like to point out: that though we understand it, I like Lewis’ illustration, that in order to become something more, to become a Christian, or to become a more mature Christian, we must first become not what we are right now: the seed must die in order for something new, something more fruitful, to emerge. But that is exactly it: we must first die to ourselves, our old selves. Crucify our sinful nature on the Cross with Christ.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; […].

— Ephesians 4:22–23

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

— Romans 6:6

Closing Thoughts

I’ve been listening to “The Answer” by Shane & Shane and I think he puts it all together best

I’ve tried more of me
and I’ve come up dry
trading You for things
things that go away

My happiness is found in less
of me and more of You
My happiness is found in less
of me and more of You

I have found the answer is
to love You and be loved by you alone

alright! alright! alright!
You crucify me and the world to me
and I will only boast in You

alright! alright! alright!

Grace and Peace be with You,
Tim

To see the source text,

Taken from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (III.6):

People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on “being in love” for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change-not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and becomes a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening.

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go-let it die away-go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow-and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.

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