2015-9-27 Sermon by Tezenlo Thong, “Dying in Order to Live”

Dying in Order to Live

Mark 8:34-38    

Oscar Wilde once said, “Come over here and sit next to me, I’m dying to tell you all about myself.” Now, that’s not what we mean by dying to oneself. That’s self-centeredness. D.L. Moody, the great 19th century preacher, said, “God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.” Now, the opposite of selfishness or self-centeredness is selflessness or self-giving. Speaking of Mother Teresa, someone said, “Her secret is that she is free to be nothing. Therefore, God can use her for anything.”

Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States has fired up many devout Catholics. It has also brought religious fervor among non-Catholic Christians. I am sure non-Christians and non-religious people are also watching his visit with curiosity and interest. One of the reasons is his humility. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope. All Jesuit priests take vows of poverty. Unlike many others before him, the present pope leads a life of humility and simplicity. So many people admire him because of his humility and life of simplicity. We see his virtues very clearly in several ways during his visit.

In today’s text, Jesus is philosophical about death. He is thinking or rather teaching philosophically about his death and death in general. He says, “If a seed is planted into the ground and it does not die, it remains a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds and seedlings and those seeds and their seedlings produce much fruit.” What Jesus is saying is that “the key to life is death.” Jesus is saying that dying is important to living. Just like the seed, death is necessary for life. Dying is important for living. It is in dying to ourselves that we begin living. Individually and as a church we are called to die so that we may live. As a church, God calls us to die so that we may live in the memory of the community. God does not call us to be self-content and self-serving. God calls us to be self-giving, to die and bear much fruit.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church