Our life (and death) isn’t about us

The verse for today is Romans 14:8.

8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

I think sometimes Christians get the idea that if we live to see another day, that just means we have permission to live however we want to live. It’s easy to think that because our vision is so narrow. Oftentimes we can only see our own life or the lives of the people close to us.

But according to Romans 14:8, if we get the opportunity to live another day, that means our purpose for that day is to honor God.

Once we decided to follow Christ, that means our lives are no longer our own. We don’t belong to ourselves. Granted, we didn’t belong to ourselves to begin with, as God is the Creator of all. But if you proclaim to be a Christian, that means you have given your life Christ. And that means, you live for Him.

So where do we get off thinking that we get to live for ourselves?

As Christians, our lives need to be about following Christ. My life needs to be about doing what Christ did, saying what Christ said, loving how Christ did. That’s what Christian means. We follow Christ.  We live for Christ.

But so many Christians never get there. They decide to believe that Christ died for them, which is great. That’s awesome, really. But they never take it any further than that. They believe that Christ died for them, but they never get to the point where they understand that He lived for us too. Christ didn’t just die to save us from our sins. He lived for us to give us an example of how to honor God with our lives.

Being a Christian isn’t just about fire insurance. It’s about living a life that brings honor and glory to God with our words, actions and thoughts. Is it easy? No. But as a Christian, it’s what we’re supposed to do.

Once we decide to follow Christ, we need to follow Him. Otherwise, we shouldn’t say we are Christ followers. What’s the point? If you’re not going to follow Christ, why call yourself a Christian? Does that make sense to anyone because it confuses the heck out of me.

But once we get the living for Christ thing down, there’s a flip side we have to consider. Because of course, if we live for Christ, you have to know we also need to be ready to die for Him too.

American Christians don’t really grasp this concept. So a couple of kids get picked on because they wore a Jesus t-shirt to school. Maybe some teenagers have a hard time about holding a Bible study on their campus. We think we’re persecuted? American Christians haven’t got a clue.

More people are killed for their faith in Christ today than in the days of Rome. In China. In the Middle East. In Indonesia. Killed just because they have chosen to believe in Christ. Christians have acid thrown on them. They are stripped away from their families and imprisoned or exiled. They are executed.

But those people understand that if they live, they live to honor God. And if they die, they die to honor God.

So how does this apply to us in America where we are free to believe whatever we want?

Well, you don’t have to be martyred to die for God. I’m thinking right now of one of the dearest people I ever had the privilege to know. If there are any readers of this blog who aren’t from Kansas, I don’t know if you’ll know of Judge Paul Clark. But he was a pretty big deal around here.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quit calling him Judge Clark even after he retired. He is the coolest person I have ever had the honor to know. And he loved God with all his heart. He lived for God every day. He is the kindest person I think I’ve ever met. He always made me smile because even though he couldn’t keep a rhythm to save his life, he still clapped at all the songs during the worship service.

Judge Clark died last Friday. He’d been ill for a long time, and so many of us had been praying that God would heal him. But God chose to bring him home. And I’m so thankful. Because Judge Clark is finally able to get that new body he’d been wanting for so long.

But if you want an example of how to die for God in America, you should look at Judge Clark. He never lost faith. He never got angry. And he used the time he had left to encourage others, to bless other people, and to keep telling people about what Christ had done for him.

You see, Christians get so caught up in living their lives that they think it’s all about them. Well, life isn’t about us. Our lives don’t belong to us. Our lives belong to Christ. So our lives should be about Christ, just like our deaths should be. And whether that means quitting your job and being a missionary . . . or leaving everything you know and love to go to school far away . . . or maybe it means plugging away at a job you don’t necessarily love but believe it’s where God wants you . . . whatever it is and wherever you are in life, your life belongs to God.

Whether you live or die, you belong to God. So whether you’re at the beginning of it or the end, make it about Him, and you won’t regret it.