What are you willing to die for?
This is a question few of us ever contemplate. Since death is inevitable and is a part of our human life cycle, why do we seldom ask the question?
When I think of this question certain professions come to mind that would more easily answer what is posed. For example, military personnel would say they will die for the country or their fellow soldier, and often that ultimately happens. Police officers will be willing to die to save someone in peril, and they do sometimes. Emergency personnel, such as firefighters, will put their lives on the line to stop a fire from spreading or to rescue people in danger, which is their duty. Think 9/11!
Most of us, thankfully, don’t have these life or death jobs. But the question still remains, “What are you willing to die for?” Initially I believe that I would die for my wife or close family members. This I am certain. But what if I were in a bank and an armed robber entered, held customers hostage, but was convinced to release some of those hostages. Would I volunteer to leave? Would I plead my case to the robbers saying how valuable my life is to my family and friends? Or would I realize that others there were people I would sacrifice my life for because I wanted them to be safe?
Where do I begin to get guidance on this subject as a committed follower of Jesus? Actually the Bible does have something to say about this question and hopefully will cause us to evaluate what the answer should be. In Romans 5:6-8 we read these words: “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
The phrase, “now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good”, shows us that even the Bible recognizes how people, by nature, aren’t willing to die for others. Yet our faith teaches us that Jesus loved people, even ones that hated him, so that he was willing to die for all.
Ah, you might be saying, “well Jesus is God; you can’t put that on the same level as asking what a human being should do.” Okay, then, but doesn’t Christianity teach that we are to emulate Jesus in all things! So what am I saying? I am saying that our willingness to die for something must be based on what would Jesus do. I know it is a cliché, but it still has to be the overarching reason for anything we do as believers.
I am convinced the answer to the question, what I am willing to die for, presupposes a companion question: what am I willing to live for? You see what we are willing to die for is the cause of what we fight for in living.
Paul, the apostle, was so in love with Jesus that he was torn as to whether to fight to stay alive or pass on to glory to be with his Savior. Listen to his words in Philippians 1:20-24, “For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live.”
Do you hear the passion and also the struggle? Paul gave up everything to serve Jesus: his reputation, his comfort, his safety, possibly even his family. That cause for which he was living is the same cause he was willing to die for.
Going back to my earlier examples of military and emergency personnel, they don’t sign up for these professions to die. No, a thousand times no, they want to live in order to serve. But they know that in those professions a possibility always exists of their personal sacrifice.
Do we as followers of the greatest faith ever proclaimed, have that same passion? Do we want to live for Christ as if our life depended on it?
As the world seems to be getting more and more evil and our own society getting more and more secular, do those “unbelievers” see in us something to emulate? Do they see a passion for living and yes even dying, something that they would give up everything for?
What would you be willing to die for? What would you be willing to live for? May we truly come to know the answer to those questions for ourselves because ultimately our entire life’s purpose rides on the answer! Also, we might find our true selves because Jesus already told us to follow him means to take up a cross. I hope we know that is the way, the truth, and the life, and yes even death.