Do you know people who have green thumbs? These folks could plant a water lily in a desert and have it grow. I am not one of these people. It simply wasn't part of my life growing up. I never learned the "joy of gardening." Yard work was always a chore. Our "gardens" simply meant more work.
When we built our home we had some landscaping done, professionally. We did this because we knew we wouldn't do it on our own. As we met with the landscaper we told him we want as little maintenance as possible. He came through in a big way! We have, what I consider to be beautiful landscaping and it doesn't require much from me.
Yet, even in the midst of my low-maintenance landscaping I have had to learn about some basic plant care. One of the things that I have learned is the importance of pruning. The other thing that I have learned is that from death comes life in the garden. There is a beautiful glory that comes from my garden as every blooms. Yet, it couldn't have happened apart from the pruning and death of the winter.
Jesus talks about this with regards to himself in John 12. He says for him to be glorified, he must first die. Check it out,
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26, ESV)
Just like the grain of wheat dies and then bears fruit, so too does Jesus, and not just him, but those who would come after him.
For Jesus, like all of creation, life comes from death. It is a hard reality for us. But, it is true. Jesus had to die for there to be life. His death, like the grain of wheat, brought life.
Jesus says, that we must hate our life in this world if we want to experience eternal life. What does that mean? Are Christians to be melancholy kill-joys? No. That's not how Jesus lived. Are we to be dualists who see the natural world as evil? No. That's not what Jesus did. So, what does it mean? To die to this world means that die to ourselves. We die to our desires. It means that we live to serve Jesus. How do we serve him? We serve him by following him where he goes. His way, ultimately, is the way of love.
As followers of Jesus we are commanded to have the attitude or mind of Christ. One way to live that out is to die to ourselves for the love of another. Will you?