Death is real. It’s not something we typically enjoy talking about, but much to our dismay, it does not appear to be leaving humanity alone anytime soon. So, as much as we would all like to avoid such a topic, it is appropriate to consider its’ implications to some degree or another.
Carol Walker, co-pastor of REACH Manhattan, challenged the body of believers at Ichthus to “live toward a better death…”, which I now have written in the back of my study-journal as a constant reminder to live in such a way. What does he mean, though? To “live toward a better death”? Well, I’m certainly not Mr. Walker, so consider the following to be a summation of my thoughts over the last 24-hours as I’ve chewed on this challenge given by him…
One’s legacy is essentially what they, themselves, leave behind for others. What assets, ideologies, practices, and the like will one have passed on to their peers, and those they potentially mentored throughout the course of life? These various items combine together to form an individual’s legacy. And, while it is typical of American pastors to give extremely beautiful eulogies in which they highlight all good aspects of a man’s life, the bad will not be easily forgotten, even if hidden beneath sugar-coated summations of one’s life. Therefore, who are we really? What have we sought to teach our families, peers, and strangers through our words and actions?
Consider the following question then…What do you want your legacy to be?
Now, if you were to die tonight, would that legacy you just dreamed of be true of you? Mine wouldn’t. It is something that I should choose to live more towards every day now. The legacy I wish to leave behind is one of selfless and sacrificial love for others, considering the least of these to be far more important than myself; to live and serve as Christ did for His Church.
A Christ-like legacy is the only one I personally deem worth living for. The only way to even come close to such a legacy is to authentically love God more than anything else. What is it that you pursue in life? To what extent do you expend yourself and your resources to obtain/sustain it? You have discovered what you love and just how much you love it. Is what you love most your LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Father, God? I’m praying that is the case, or soon becomes the reality of your heart’s condition.
As I have studied the Gospels over the course of my nearly 23 years of life, I’ve come to notice that one of the greatest elements of Christ’s legacy, and those who live life in such a way, is unconditional love.
Unconditional love overcomes the human-condition to only give of ourselves into something that benefits; sometimes even loving in situations where there is no love in return. Consider the example set by Christ, as he pleaded for the forgiveness of those that put him to death on the rugged cross; no persons’ faults can tame such a violently courageous love. To exhibit such love to another, one must empty oneself of self entirely and now, selfless, give all that they are/have to others. Sounds taxing, right? While it may be in some situations, there is truly no greater source of joy in the end. Why? Because when unconditional love is brilliantly displayed, then witnessed by another, it rocks their foundations, as it shatters their preconceived expectations! No one expects to be unconditionally loved–the reality is quite the opposite, with a majority of young men and women openly admitting that they expect to be let down by those they love on a frequent basis. So, when you have chosen to die to yourself and love others unconditionally (whether they ‘deserve’ it or not, because let’s be honest, you and I do not ‘deserve’ unconditional love either…), you have become a beautiful display of Christ’s love to them, and the opportunity for crazy, culture-defying relationships to form is present.
Have you ever had the pleasure of witnessing the love that brothers in Christ may have amongst each other? If you have ever had the opportunity to witness me among my brothers in Christ within the house-church of Rev79, then you have witnessed this deep, culture-defying love, that places each other above ourselves. It is ridiculously beautiful, and it often makes others uncomfortable, because they do not have a clue how to react to grown men hugging and encouraging each other so much; their cultural expectation for us to be violent, narcissistic, and self-focused, only loving one another when it is convenient, is blown to pieces.
I love it.
It brings people to a point of questioning why one would be capable of this culture-defying, unconditional love… Any guesses at what the answer is? A life died to, that has embraced God’s grace, and decided to live selflessly, unconditionally loving others to the end of their days.
Consider their brains blown…
They want in.
Yes, they want in. Who would choose to not be loved in such a way? What better thing is worth living for than a God that has come after us relentlessly with a love and grace that defies all human-logic? I wouldn’t. Would you?
In summation, I challenge every man and woman to consider their legacy; what will it be, how will you live it out, what are you willing to sacrifice to make it become a reality? If you consider yourself a disciple of Christ, then I strongly encourage you to join me in pursuing a legacy of unconditional love and to ‘live toward a better death’. If you do not yet consider yourself to be among the fellowship of Christian brothers and sisters, then I challenge you to witness the love that authentic believers have for one another and total strangers, and then explore how they could possibly love to such a degree if God were not their real King and source of strength and grace? They couldn’t.