READ: Ruth 1-4, Psalm 80, John 12, Ephesians 1
William Borden is buried in Cairo. On his tombstone is written: “A man in Christ.” Borden was only 25 when he died. He was studying Arabic to be better prepared to reach Muslims in China. He also happened to be the heir to the Borden estate – famous for their milk products. A graduate of Yale and Princeton, Borden walked away from fame and fortune to give his life for the glory of God among those who never heard. He is most famous for a life summed up in his own words: No Reserves, No Retreat, No Regrets.
John 12:24 reminds us that our death is our fruit. Hating our life is how we preserve it (v. 25). Our purpose is NOT to be saved from trouble: “What shall I say, deliver me from this hour? [NO!]….rather glorify Thy name” (v. 27), but for God to be magnified through a life that seems to lose everything. The reality is that a grain of wheat has to die first, and then Jesus calls it out of the tomb, raises it from the dead, empowers it to bear witness, and as a consequence the world goes after Jesus (v. 17). The real question then is this: “Have you died yet?”
So focused on living, we forget that the highest form of life is resurrection life and this life is only entered into by dying. A crucified life is not only judgment on the world; it is witness to that same world. A crucified life is what points to the victory of Jesus on the cross whereby the ruler of this world was cast out (John 12:31). The cross was the great exorcism of history, the cross unseated the demonic powers, and the crucified life is an irritating reminder to the devil that he has been thrown down. When followers of Jesus die to themselves, they stick it in the eye of the devil and agonizingly remind him that Jesus is life and Jesus has won.
And to what end? Ultimately the glory of God, but attending the elevation of God is the encouragement of man. When we die to self according to Ephesians 1, we are blessed in Jesus (v. 3), chosen in Jesus (v.4), adopted by Jesus (v.5), accepted in the beloved by Jesus (v.6), redeemed in Jesus (v.7), purposed in Jesus (v. 9), gathered together in Jesus (v.10), inheritors in Jesus (v.11), blessed by trust in Jesus (v. 12), empowered by faith in Jesus (v.15), and have knowledge in Jesus (v.17). We can’t afford not to die!
Borden realized this secret and died immensely wealthy, a man in Christ and in Christ possessor of all things. Oh, the joy of dying to our pitiful, miserable, limited smallness (in all things) and rising to the life of EVERYTHING supplied to us in Christ.