Memento Mori – Another Reason NOT to Follow Jesus (Part 3)

Here are things NOT on Jesus’ daily to-do list:

1. Be overly concerned with Lori’s comfort.
2. Take special pains to be sure Lori experiences uninterrupted happiness.
3. Answer every one of Lori’s prayers in the way she requests.
4. Buy into the American Dream and be sure to provide one for Lori.
(Feel free to insert your name in place of mine. The list will still reflect the truth.)

So, here’s another reason NOT to follow Jesus. You have to die to yourself.

That’s right. Die to self.

Do you want to be counter-cultural in 21st century America? Go around espousing death to self as a lifestyle. That’s if you want to be counter-cultural not popular.

I have a Gatlin-gun of back-up on this concept from the Bible:

Jesus likens it to the life-cycle of a seed. In John 12:23-26 (NIV), “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.”

And in Mark 8:34-35 (NIV) “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

And let’s not kid ourselves about this. This dying to self thing isn’t like the glorious death scene in Braveheart when, before a crowd of supporters, William Wallace goes out in a blaze of martyrdom for freedom. That type of dramatic “lay down our lives” sacrifice happens for relatively few of us (although many brothers and sisters across the world face this every day – and I would daresay it doesn’t feel glorious to those who love them. When death comes, it just feels like death.)

The death Jesus is talking encompasses a daily death – a laying down of any claim to one’s life every single minute of every day.

The early church talked about red martyrdom and white martyrdom. Red martyrdom was when a believer shed his or her blood in witness to the truth of Christ. White martyrdom was a commitment to a daily dying to self. The mistake made by the early church is the idea that this is a vocation for a chosen few who then become nuns or monks or clerics. White martyrdom is a calling on the life of every believer. “If ANYONE would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

It’s not a concept to take lightly.

Many people say they would die for their faith but they won’t give up an hour’s sleep to pray or change the channel on a show that tempts them to covet or to lust. They would gladly die for Christ but they won’t share their home with someone in need or risk a friend’s disapproval or sacrifice their children’s cable television to support an orphan in Haiti.

I really struggle with this. I wake up every morning with my own agenda, my own plan for my day, personal goals, hopes, dreams, objectives. When God makes it clear that His plans for the day are not mine, I try to arm wrestle Him for it, thinking maybe I have a shot at three out of five with the Almighty. And then, when I die to my own plans, yield to the call of the Holy Spirit in the moment, I wonder why I fought against it in the first place (Okay, besides the fact that it was uncomfortable, costly, painful, time-consuming or humbling).

This dying to self is not about choosing a life of misery for misery’s sake because it’s not that. There is joy and passion and happy surprise in a life lived for Christ. God’s plans for us are not about choosing the thing we hate the most and calling us to that. It’s about living every moment as though it’s not about YOU but about Him. You story has intersected with His story and now He is the main character.

It’s not about misery but it’s not a life for people who need it forever to be all about them.

Memento mori is a Latin phrase that means “Remember you must die”. It is wise counsel.

When you choose to follow Jesus “memento mori.”

If you choose not to follow Jesus “memento mori.”

Die to self today and live forever.

Live for self today and wake to a death that does not end.

Here is the promise for those who follow Jesus: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 NIV

Memento mori.


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13 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Maurie@GraciousInteriors.blogspot says:

    Okay, the white martyrdom is hard. But, it is our calling. I “arm-wrestle” God about this, too…For particulars, read my most recent blog:
    http://graciousinteriors.blogspot.com/2010/06/loosening-up-uptight-living-room.html?spref=fb. The post is on this constant internal conflict. Thanks, Lori, for the reminder. “Not I, but Christ.”

  2. WhiteStone says:

    My hubby and I have both been diagnosed this past year with ailments that will most likely kill us inside the next three years. So we are looking at death clearly, knowing that each one of our days (and moments) are totally in God’s hands and acknowledging gratefulness for His sovereignty in all aspects of our lives. Great post.

    (I loved your list of things NOT on Jesus’ to-do list. still laughing with hubby about that.)

  3. Thanks for dropping by, Marcia. I read your post yesterday and can appreciate your struggle. I think as American Christians we should honestly discuss this issue more so we aren’t subject to attack by false guilt but also so we are living up fully to our calling in Christ.

  4. Greetings White Stone – perfect name! I suffered from lupus all through my twenties and was not given much hope of having children or a long life so I faced this day-by-day thing early on. The Lord has healed me (symptom free for 17 years) and blessed me with two children but the lesson has never left me. Glad I could bring laughter into your day!

  5. What, you mean Joel Osteen has it wrong? You’re kidding!!

    Preach it, girl! I love it!

  6. You’re funny, Betsy. Don’t think I’ll be hitting the bestseller list with this message (althought the Bible did).
    Seems like more of a niche-market message.

  7. Cheri says:

    Well, I’m blessed to be in your niche!

    Great series, Lori. Thanks for being obedient to write what He puts on your heart.

    Blessings,
    Cheri

  8. Once again, an excellent post. You truly have a gift, I feel as if I have stumbled upon a treasure trove. Blessings to you! Colleen

  9. Wow, I’m really honored by that, Colleen. Thank you!

  10. Truth. Truth. And more truth! Thank you, Lori. I agree with so many of the comments here. Colleen is right. You are a treasure trove of wisdom. God bless!

  11. Carmen says:

    This was an awesome post Lori! Memento Mori – such an apt expression, and one we quickly forget. I love this series…I’m reading it backwards, (part 4 to part 1) but that’s okay right? 😉

  12. covnitkepr1 says:

    As we witness to a lost world…besides the Gospel this is also what they should be told.
    I’ve followed you for some time now and take this opportunity to invite you to follow my blog as well if you wish.