Born to Die
a reflection on the cross at Christmastime by Dee Dee Smith

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Over the next few weeks we will all see images and symbols of the Christmas season.

We‘ve heard the story many times. Christmas plays, cantatas, carols and the like all tell the story of His (Jesus‘) miraculous birth. This is a story that must become alive in our hearts. If it does not, the story is belittled to mere historical facts.

The prophet Isaiah foretold both Jesus‘ birth and His death. Isaiah 9:16 "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 53: 8-9 "By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief."

Jesus was born to die. I can hear some of you saying now, "everybody knows He was born to die". But did you know that you and I were also born to die? Some of you might say, "Yes, I knew that too, everyone is going to die". But I‘m not speaking of the death that you are thinking of. Jesus was a sacrificial lamb - right? He took the punishment that you and I deserved. But what does Jesus say that we must do to inherit eternal life? He says, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34).

What did Jesus mean about us taking up our cross? Many simplify it by saying it represents the suffering in this life--trials, tribulation and persecution. But the Word tells us that both believers and unbelievers will have trouble in this world. If we take up our cross, following after Jesus, where are we going? At the time of crucifixions, one would carry the cross to where? That‘s right, to the place of death. You see we pick up the cross agreeing to die. Oh, I‘m not talking about in the physical. We all know that these mortal bodies are going to waste away. But God wants us to die to ourselves, to deny our own plans, our own selfish ambitions and to leave it all to follow Him. In the gospel of Matthew verses 10:38-39, Jesus says, "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it." Mark also gives an account of Jesus saying this in verse 8:35, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel‘s shall save it."

Consequently, we were born to die. Born to die in order that Christ might be resurrected in us. He then lives in us drawing others unto Himself. Not us doing the drawing, but Him in us doing the drawing.

So what do you want for Christmas this year? What‘s on your list? Is it a new stove and refrigerator, a diamond necklace, a husband or wife, perhaps it‘s simply to see your children for Christmas? All these things are fine but if we are dying, and Christ is rising in us, then we should want what Jesus would want. Think about it, what would Jesus want for Christmas? Better yet, what does Jesus want from you this Christmas? What part of your life or what desire has God been asking you to put to death? What sacrifice is he asking you to make for the sake of the gospel? Only you can answer that question but I know that God is speaking to someone.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said something like this "Life is not worth living until you find something worth dying for". Many of you have spent your whole life looking for purpose, looking for something that you are so passionate about it that you‘d be willing to die for it. Here it is. Here is the secret to life. You were born to die in order that Christ might live in you and that through you His light might be seen. It‘s so simple that we seek all of our lives looking for something else.

The Lord is saying - You will not be happy, you will not find peace and contentment until you truly commit to taking up your cross and following Jesus. Throw away the New Year‘s resolutions for 2008, throw away your five and ten year plans and let God rewrite the vision for your life. In His will you‘ll find happiness and contentment forever more. You were born to die.

About the Author

Dee Dee Smith‘s testimony is one that is common to many. As a youth she joined the church, became active in the youth choir, the junior usher board and Baptist Training Union. She went on to attend Wilberforce University, an institution affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. During and after college, Dee Dee made church attendance a somewhat regular part of her life but now, in retrospect, she understands that this practice was dictated more by "religion and tradition" than by a love for Jesus Christ.

By the world‘s standards, Dee Dee and her husband were sure that they were living the "American Dream". They both had college degrees and had purchased their first home at the young age of 26. After buying the house, they decided to have children, but found themselves a year later in the doctors office taking a battery of tests for what the doctor called "infertility". Although they did eventually conceive, Dee Dee miscarried just a week after learning that she was pregnant. The next few years would bring about two more failed pregnancies and lots of hurts and disappointments. Wanting desperately to have a baby, Dee Dee turned to the church looking for answers. She began to attend services regularly and joined different auxiliaries. She and her husband started to attend a bible study taught by one of the Pastors. "It was in this bible study that I realized that I too could and should hear the voice of God," writes Dee Dee. "To this day I can remember how awkwardly I prayed and then sat there waiting to hear God speak to me. Although my motive was wrong (simply put I was seeking God because I wanted to have a baby), through my seeking, I fell in love with God and received salvation through Jesus Christ."

Years later, through prophecy/word of knowledge, both Dee Dee and her husband received a call into ministry. Knowing no other way to serve, they both became ordained and later served as Associate Ministers and faithful members of the church. Although study time at home was awesome, they became more and more disappointed with their church experiences. The worship seemed rote and monotonous, and the Spirit much hindered by the church bulletin and time limits. Adding to the problem was the fact that the Pastor and Associate Pastor were at odds with one another.

With the Pastor and Associate Pastor constantly bickering, church board meetings became unsettling for many. As the Smiths and some friends began to pray and intercede in the situation, they began meeting every Friday night to seek the Lord, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning. Says Dee Dee, "These meetings were simply wonderful, and they were our introduction to ‘koinonia‘ and intimate fellowship."

Presently, Dee Dee and her husband meet with four other couples in their home a couple of times a week. While many call their meetings a house church or a home fellowship, they simply call each other "family". Dee Dee‘s prayer is that, through this short story, others might be encouraged to seek "koinonia" (true devotion and personal intimacy/fellowship and "pure" love with the brethren).

Copyright (c) 2010, Dee Dee Smith.