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The Art of Self-Death

On June 22nd, 2016, in Weaverville, North Carolina, like it was my destiny all along, I discovered one of my favorite Bible verses of all time. Found in Ecclesiastes 3, in the heart of the passage titled: “A Time For Everything,” it reads:

“a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;”

Contextually, “A Time For Everything” refers to the idea that there is an appropriate time for everything. In this particular section, it seems we are met with a set of contradictory forces: the juxtaposition of death and destruction with life and creation.

Around the same time that I discovered this Old Testament gem, I was quickly and ravenously reading through C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, absorbing and digesting his view on our precarious position in God’s universe. I was truly captivated by Lewis’s masterpiece.

I finished his work in three days, devouring and dissecting each chapter at the top of the slide and at the deck of the blob during lulls in camp-designated free time (a week at a Young Life camp is exhausting, especially for campers; by the end of their stay, free time became nap time and only a few of our high school friends used the waterfront). Again, like it was my destiny all along, Lewis mentions an idea that seems to go hand-in-hand with the the verse mentioned above. He talks about submitting to death. Like many verses in the Bible, Lewis proclaims that we submit to death of our ambitions, our vanity, and our selfishness, submitting our every atom and molecule of our body to God. It is only through this “self-death” are we able to achieve eternal life.

In my eyes, this simultaneous discovery was not a coincidence. It was a call from God himself. It was a call to relinquish all of my conceited desires, undeserved ambitions, and vain goals–a time to kill and break down. But it was also an open invitation to focus on and attend to my relationship with our Lord–a time to heal and build up.

Christianity is exactly this: a dynamic and lively relationship with God that requires care and attention. Like a gardener, we must continuously prune and cut away our sin, but we must also water and cultivate our love for God and each other.

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