Sunday, March 19

Already dead

I just finished reading Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. It's the true story of two deep wreck divers who uncovered the mystery of a sunken World War II U-boat located off the coast of New Jersey. The story follows John Chatterton and Richie Kohler as they risk their lives to uncover the mystery of which submarine it is, what it was doing there, how it ended up on the bottom of the ocean, and the story of the men aboard the ship. It's a good story. I highly recommend it.

There was one thing quoted in the book that struck me. Before Chatterton became a diver, he was a combat medic in Vietnam. He made a list of things that he had come to believe during his time in the field. One of these observations was that the "guy who gets killed is often the guy who got nervous. The guy who doesn't care any more, who has said 'I'm already dead - the fact that I live or die is irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the accounting I give of myself,' is the most formidable force in the world." (Shadow Divers, p. 82).

Chatterton was discussing soliders in combat. But he could have been talking about followers of Christ. The follower of Christ who gets killed (figuratively), who is ineffective in reaching others, is often the one who is nervous about his or her faith. It's the person who is afraid to tell others what they believe because they are afraid of the reaction. It's the person who doesn't undertake a project because it might fail. It's the person who won't step out in faith because the money isn't there yet. They remove the chance for God to work, because their fear keeps them from moving.

That's not what Jesus wants for us. Jesus told us that if we want to come after him, we must take up our cross and follow him. Jesus is telling us that we have to die. In life without Christ, death is the end, and therefore is something to be feared. With Jesus, we are supposed to die first, so that once we start following we have nothing to fear. Because we are already dead. What matters at that point, like Chatterton said, is the accounting we give of ourselves. These are the people who are able to step out in faith without fear, who are able to take on God-sized dreams. Failure, or the opinion of others has stopped mattering. What they care about is the accounting they are able to give of themselves. They become an unstoppable force because God is free to work through them because they have stepped out. This is the same spirit that caused Jonathan to attack the Philistines, saying "Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf." He didn't know what God would do, but he knew that God could only work through him if he was doing something. He acted like he was already dead, and God was able to do amazing things through him.

We need to stop being afraid of what might happen. We need to start acting like we are already dead, and that the only thing that matters is the accounting that we are going to be able to give of ourselves. If we do that, then we can become a formidable force for God.

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