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Die to Live

Briefing: Death is not a funny subject. It is one of those unpleasant topics that most people avoid.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 12:20-36.

On the Street: When you tell a police officer that he/she has to die to live, they get a little skeptical. Death has significant meaning for most humans but law enforcement officers have a tad bit more interest, awareness, and/or consideration when it comes to the issue. Studies have shown that police work is one of the, if not the most dangerous job. More police officers die in the performance of their job than any other occupation. It is a violent, dangerous job that requires a sober reality of the possible consequences of being in the profession. If the job were not dangerous enough, the stress is even worse. I have mentioned before the incredible, unacceptable rate of suicides in law enforcement. Death seems to be part of our job. If we are not concerned about being killed in the line of duty, we are usually the first ones called to fatal vehicle accidents, suicides, homicides and accidental deaths. We deal with much more death than the normal person.

Physical death is a reality for everyone. The issue at hand is the fact that most of us do not consider any other kind of death; therefore, we focus only on the negative aspects of physical death.

There is another kind of death that goes on all around us on a daily basis that we don’t recognize or appreciate. As humans, we are very selfish creatures. When we think of death, we think only of how it affects us. There is a very positive, natural, and necessary death that is absolutely essential to our very existence.

In verse 24 Jesus tells us, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” I have a garden in my back yard. I love to plant okra every spring. When summer starts, the okra plants will produce okra pods daily. Toward the end of the summer, I will stop picking the okra and leave the pods on the plant. With the arrival of fall and cooler weather, the okra plants die. Once they are dead and the okra that was left on the plant looks shriveled up, dried out and hardened, I will pick them. I take them to the shed and crack the dried, dead okra pods and pour out the seeds. I usually get 20-30 seeds per pod. Just two or three pods contain enough seed to plant my whole garden for the next year.

Jesus is explaining how we are expected to live our lives. Living through death is such a foreign idea but God often calls us to be different than the world around us. The world tells us to “look out for number one”. God tells us to love one another. Love is not selfish. Love is dying to ourselves and being obedient to what God has called us to. We can experience this by dying to our selfish goals and dreams and asking God what His plans for our future are. His plans are always better than our plans. His plans include living life eternal in heaven. That beats any plans I could ever come up with on earth.

As we live for God, He uses us to influence other people for Him. This is like planting seeds. The more we live for Him the more we die to ourselves. This might not sound appealing but in truth, when you live for God, your goals and dreams start to match up with His will. When this happens, He begins to fulfill the desires of your heart. Does this sound like dying?

Investigational Resources: For more information on death, see Proverbs 8:36, Proverbs 14:12, John 5:24, Romans 6:1-4.

Officer Safety Principle: We die to live and we live to die. Dying is the only way to live.

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!