“It is when our struggles stops that we lost the battle.”
“It is when we lost trust to ourselves that God can start trusting us.”
Here are the quotes that I got this morning while a pastor friend of mine shares his journey from a multi-million peso, 4 big companies, built the biggest power plant in china, lighted the whole Vietnam after war, building a couple of power plants in Hong Kong,consultant and engineer by profession, imagine a 70,000 peso [$1,500] he spent a day, a father of two, their weekly groceries alone cost 30,000 peso [$800], and guess how old is he that time? 32. He is 53 now and in the service of the community around his church.
‘Dying’ is certainly costly, death to the identity that the world gives you. Death to the destiny that your profession dictate to. For all this man has in the world started on his 20’s, at age 32 as he was sitting on his office staring that heaps of paper works – God speaks to him. He was just a plain member of a church in Manila then.
“Are you happy with all these things that I am allowing you to handle?” God said.
“Lord, you have given me so much but deep inside my heart you know that you know that I am not happy at all.” He replied, “what do you want me to do.”
“Leave…everything.” God said in his mind.
He obeyed the voice, close down his 4 companies, paid all 4 presidents, staffs, lock up the office, and leave the next decision what to do about his office facilities to the building owner. “I could have sell it of up to 700,000” he said. [$18,000]. Paid all bank debts, even leaving his own house, and live in the slum area in Manila, serving the people in 5 communities for 5 years – trusting God ‘alone,’ not a lot for his family and two kids to provide every need.
“God is cleansing us” he said. Their daily food in every meals has to come from God – “we depend on God to knock on our door and hand us some food like sardines, corn, etc through His people in the community” he said. God did.
What interest me as I and another two woman heard his story was that how one of the woman exclaimed in awe, “You have such great faith!” in which I was totally not in tune with what she gets. I was focusing on his ‘dying’ side of his story rather than his ‘faith.’ Yes, he has indeed have great faith in which most Christians around can just have it but live totally ‘living on their own turfs.’
Yes, one’s faith in God pleases God, [without faith it is impossible to please God] but if we look at Hebrews 11, you will see these ‘hero’s of faith’ died without receiving anything to what they had faith for. Moses did not get into the promise land, the prophets were persecuted and killed, Jesus Himself in spite of being a son suffered, even what He want to happen in the Garden of Gethsemane – let this cup pass from me – He didn’t get it! So, what kind of ‘faith’ are we talking about in most Christian circles today?
Most Christians want something to happen but refuses to change. Church leaders want revival to happen in their neighborhoods but refuses to align themselves with the King. And so trying to make that revival happen in their own ways in their own terms.
I believe ‘death to self’ is a prerequisite to ‘ true faith.’ Change is costly. Change requires leaving something old behind and press to something new. The Bible says that we have to ‘put off the old man’ and ‘put on the new man.’ As Wolfgang says, “Cleaving requires leaving.”
To get into a church membership might need just someone who believes in God, makes God one’s savior. But to enter into His Kingdom, His domain takes death to one’s self. Death to one’s ambition, death to his own secured identity, as The King in His Kingdom puts it plainly – “a disciple must deny himself and take up his cross daily.” Paul, an apostle died ‘daily.’ It is interesting when Jesus and the apostles when talking about ‘death to self’ it didn’t say, “It can be repaired!” The old man has to die to give way to the new man to live. The cost of ‘being’ a disciple is not about ‘doing’ what a disciple does. What can a dead man do? Christianity today thought about serving God more by doing more as if God needed anything. It remains a fact that our Maker made us human ‘beings’ not human ‘doings.’ When we are dead to ourselves, not only God can use us. But only then God will give us our divine, [life destined by God] to us.
Gabriel, this friend’s name is, says, “Only then I realized that I cannot trust myself anymore.” We seek God’s work to fulfill His work instead seeking His ways and watch Him work. His intent for man to enter into His Kingdom is to die once so that He will be born twice [John 3]. A man who is alive to his own ways, uses his logic and intellect – no wonder God uses the fool to shame the wise – to do God’s work, such a mindset cannot be discipled – it must be killed!
Faith is not useful for those who are alive. What is faith for, is it not to raise the dead? Look at the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 37, he raised the whole army of bones and enlist them for battle. Simply a believer of Jesus does not make you a disciple. Being a disciple requires death. A believer ask for ‘discounts’ – get the lowest fee to get God’s blessings – but being a disciple is no choice. Either you lose your life to get it, or live life selfishly and lose that life ultimately.
“You have a choice.” A friend’s advice in the Wolverine movie, as he is planning to take revenge. His reply is a stunning statement: “Mine is taken.”
What is the option of a dead person? Dependent to the One who has the power to give life. Except the Author of life, King Jesus must raise him first, put on God’s faith in him and cast him off to go make more disciples for His Kingdom, he remains dead meat, stinky. That’s why Paul says, “I no longer live but Christ’s lives in me.” One who live lives for his own, simply exist. But one who is dead cannot live on his own, does not live on his own, lives for nothing – he was raised from the dead, has given new life not for his own but for the one who gives it.
A disciple who knows that he’s not living for himself but for His King, when encountered by persecutions, trials and struggles does not care anymore [- as my friend Gary Goodell says, “if it still hurts then you’re not dead yet” -] it doesn’t matter. Why? It is not about me, I, myself, nor you, you know, it’s about The Kingdom!