Jesus teaches us that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24). This is commonly called the “death principle” and it permeates Scripture. It also governs life as we know it.

God designed us to find fulfillment through dependence upon him. Our original purpose was to find our sense of well being by remaining in harmony with the will of God. As fallen human beings, however, we are egocentric to the core. Our “sinful nature” after the fall drives us to attempt an impossible project: to make ourselves the center of the universe. It is our attempt to accomplish the impossible that creates the strife, insecurity, and unhappiness that we experience in our present condition.

At the heart of the gospel message stands a cross—an instrument of death. In order to enter Life, we must die. This is the central idea Jesus tried to teach his disciples. At least seven of his parables, and much of his teaching, sternly warn against the idolatry of selfishness.

It is no accident that the two central rituals in the Christian religion (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) both focus on death. In baptism the new believer dies. It is much more than bad habits that stay under the water—it is the self. Every Lord’s Day we celebrate the Eternal Life that is given to us here and now as a free gift. However, the ritual that most directly provokes our celebration also forces us to remember the death that was required in order to secure Life on our behalf.

I have found that when a problem arises in my life 9 times out of 3 I am in direct violation of the death principle. “The trouble with us is me.” When I am at the center of my world, I am out of my place and my world is out of balance. Be assured that if the imbalance continues it will destroy my marriage, my job, my sanity. Where selfishness reigns wide scale destruction is inevitable.

The only way to regain my balance, the only way to find security, the only way to enter Life is to get self out of the center. But to do that I have to candidly answer the tough question—is it worth dying for?