“Come and die.” Not exactly the most enticing words in any situation, let alone as an invitation to follow someone. We’d probably prefer, “Come and I will help you reach your potential,” or, “Come and I will make your wildest dreams come true”. Yet, when Jesus called the crowds to follow him he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). It is, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
As we have studied the second half of the Gospel of Mark together over the last few weeks, I have been struck by the prominence of this truth. Over and over again, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that to follow him means to follow him to the cross. It means to die to yourself, and come alive to him. It means to give up your self-centred life, for a life of other-centred love. And to make sure it sinks in, Jesus has given us examples of what it looks like in the way we treat others (9:14-28; 10:13-16), in marriage (10:1-12), in leadership (9:33-37), and in money (10:17-31).
No doubt this is a difficult truth, but in our culture of self-esteem, self-fulfilment, self-actualisation, and self-help, it is a truth that bears repeating. Death is never easy, and this is especially true for the death of our deep-seated selfish desires. Yet, Jesus would tell us, it is the only way to life.
Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” A selfish life is a small, impoverished life. We know this deep down. We look at self-absorption and our souls recoil. Conversely, when we see sacrificial generosity and compassion, our hearts sing. Something deep within us resonates. Why? Because that is who God is. God is the ultimate giver. Out of his great love and at great personal cost to himself, God gave Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus to die so that we might live. And as we follow him, our selfish desires, too, die, so that we might truly live.
Let me give you a quick update on Young Adults ministry. This year we have five young adult Growth Groups running weekly, all of which are studying along with our sermon-series based Growth Group guides. We have also been able to support Prison Fellowship Australia, and Ingrid and Willem Herbst specifically, by helping them to purchase resources to use in sharing the gospel with prisoners.
Please continue to pray for the young adults of BPCC, and if you are Year 12+, or have children that are Year 12+, consider coming or inviting them along to young adults which is on a Monday night at BPCC from 7-9PM.