OK I have a couple thoughts bumping around in my head, please bear with me as I attempt to express them in one coherent stream of consciousness…
Is following Jesus as simple as saying “no” to death and “yes” to life? Yes, it is as simple, but this not easy… because often what is “death” looks to us like “life.”
For example: partying, drinking… you know sex, drugs, and rock n roll, look like a lot of fun, and they can feel so good, like you’re really living life to its fullest. But this is not true, it is a broken twisted version of living, and for many people they just don’t know any better, they have not experienced real living. Even Christians (like me) who have experienced true life, often get deceived into thinking that that they are somehow missing out on life (this is connected to the first deception and sin in the garden of Eden)… like Eve we often believe the devil’s lie when he says that God is holding out on us, that there is something bigger and better out there for us.
LIE!!! How do I know this? Because God is our Father who loves us and always has our best in mind, in all he does and says… and how do I know this? Well for me there are two pieces of evidences that are the strongest:
First, he went through all the effort of creating this world, everything in it (including you and me). Why would he do that if he only meant for us to be miserable and die!? I don’t think he would, would you? If you have kids, do you do so with the intention of making their lives miserable and then watch them die off? Ah noooo! You love them, and you do and say all you can with their best in mind, well how much more would be true of God our Father who is not merely “loving” but is the very essences of love itself?
Second piece of evidence: God came as Jesus and died for you and me so that we could have life, life to the fullest! This only makes sense if he loves us, and wants what is best for us. Jesus is the greatest proof that God really really really loves us, has only our best in mind and wants us to have life! (note: I am operating on several assumptions: a belief in the Divine Creator, and in the death and resurrection of the God Man Jesus Christ).
OK so far I have said that following Jesus is about saying “no” to death and “yes” to life, that this is simple but not easy, because we often get deceived into thinking “death” is “life”, and that God loves us and always has our best in mind…
So one of the ways we can choose “life” is to look at what God talks to us about in the Bible, in the way of his laws/commands/rules/strong suggestions… don’t freak out! These are not bad things, I’m not talking about “legalism.” I am talking about that same God who loves you, who created you, who died for you, all to give you life! This same God has given you laws/commands/rules/strong suggestions on how to live this abundant life.
For example: “Thou shall not kill…” pretty obvious how that is for our best, right? What about “Thou shall not covet…”? Maybe a little less obvious, but still God saying “hey I know that if you get envious of others, you will become bitter and angry, and that’s not really living, and I want you to live not be in the death of bitterness and anger.” In the New Testament Paul instructs us not to get drunk… why? There are so many reasons: biologically over drinking is toxic for our bodies, psychologically it is a depressant; socially we often do stupid things that damage relationships…
I could go on and on, but the theme is that God’s laws/commands/rules/strong suggestions are ALL for our best, they help us say “NO, F#@K OFF!” to death and “YES!” to life… they will not in themselves produce eternal life (that only comes from the Spirit of God) but they are an important tool in following Jesus (important to note: we cannot fully utilize them without the help and power of the Spirit). Therefore as we journey through this earth, in this still broken fallen age, we can trust the laws/commands/rules/strong suggestions that the Creator God who is our Father who loves us and always has our best in mind has given us as tools of(for) life.