It was a corker of a question: “How do you feel about the fact that for you to live, someone has to die?” The interviewee sat there, lost for words. His lower lip began to quiver, and his eyes filled with tears. “I have no idea how to answer that.” Then his head dropped, and he said, “I would probably pray for that person – every day, for the rest of my life.”
The interviewer was Dr. Robert Winston of the BBC TV program Superhuman. He was talking to a man waiting for a heart transplant in an American hospital. He was one man in a ward full of people who desperately held to the hope that before their own heart completely stopped working, a suitable ‘donor’ heart would be found for them. For these patients to live someone else had to die. Their life was totally dependent on the death of another.
Over Easter we give thanks for LIFE. What we remember and celebrate and give thanks for at Easter is that Jesus willingly traded his life for ours. Every human being is in desperate need of new life. We have all rebelled against the God who has given us the gift of life. The bible says we are ‘dead in our transgressions and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1). Spiritually dead even while we are alive. When Jesus died on the cross, he died the death we so richly deserve. He died as a sacrifice for our sins. By his death and resurrection our sins are forgiven, we are made right with God, and we receive the priceless gift of eternal life.
This is what the most famous Bible verse says: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Thanks to his death on the cross in our place, and his resurrection defeating the power of death, the life Jesus offers us is eternal. We are totally dependent upon Jesus for a new heart, a new life.
If we were sitting in a hospital ward, hooked up to monitors and tubes with a failing heart beat, and someone rushed in with a new heart we wouldn’t reject it. Why? Because we know we need it for life, and life is so precious. So the very first thing to say is, ask God to help you see your desperate plight and need for life in Jesus. Come to life through Jesus this Easter and know the preciousness of life forever. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
For those of us who have already received the gift of life through Jesus, Easter is a very important reminder that the life we have received is for all people. The fact of the matter is we are surrounded by people who are in desperate need of life. Our new life, and this desperate need, ought to bring a certain focus and purpose to the new life we live.
The Lord Jesus has called us to align ourselves with his vision: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).
Can the church of Jesus Christ have any integrity or authenticity unless the summons of our Lord Jesus to make disciples of all the nations produces in us focus and strategies and sacrifices and dedication and enthusiasm to see others have life?
I wrote last month about how we are led and governed here at St Paul’s. I mentioned things like the place of Parish Council and leadership and reporting structures. None of these things have to do with making the ‘wheels of St Paul’s turn better’ to make life easier. All of our strategies and ministries and leadership and governance are to constantly come under the microscope to ensure that it is best placed to serve the mission the Lord Jesus has given to us in our context. If what we do is more in preservation mode and consumer mode than disciple making mode then it has lost its focus and must change.
It is essential for us to lay aside our peace-time mentality and wake up to the ominous reality of the spiritual war we are engaged in. The stakes are infinitely high: the glory of God and the eternal salvation of millions of people, of which thousands are within the reach of St Paul’s. Do you sense the urgency of the mission we have been called to? The stakes and the urgency call us to give our attention and support and energy to it. Much like we would if we were embroiled in an actual fight for our lives.
Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister