In Dying, We Are Born To Eternal Life
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life
I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. I am both excited and nervous about leading this class. I have never done anything like this, yet I am excited to share what I have learned about this prayer with my church. My hope is this prayer will help others live the call of the Gospel.
This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words of this prayer. He might never have said or written these words, but his life is an example of what it means to live this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. While this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.
I would like to reflect on each line. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog here: https://godwrestler.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/a-personal-look-at-the-st-francis-prayer
I may even write a book based on this prayer.
We now are looking at the final line of this awesome prayer. It ends with an exclamation point, saying this is what being an instrument of God leads to for the prayer. The prayer begins with seven imperatives and then expands on what it means by those seven imperatives. This line of the prayer is about living fully, loving radically, and sharing ourselves wastefully. This prayer is about living in such a way that we provide others with the hope, light, love, and joy they need. As we die to our old ways and embrace the way of Jesus, we are embraced by the presence of God. This kind of life is a gift from God.
There are two kinds of death: one to our old ways when we become Christians and one as we pass from physical existence to spiritual kind of immortality.
Dying is something none of us cannot control, but must face eventually. We fear death, but this line says that when we trust God all will be well. We need not worry that death will be the end; it is merely the beginning of a grand adventure. Yet, we can and should die to our old self and be reborn to our new self as Kingdom people in this life. Paul writes in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
As Christians, we don’t need to worry about what happens after this life, so this line is not about going to heaven as much as it is about shaping our life on the principles of this prayer and our faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
Martin Buber an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher writes, “Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?”
Brenan Manning says that on Judgment Day Lord Jesus will ask us: Did you believe I loved you? That I desired you. That I waited for you day after day, that I longed to hear the sound of your voice?
The real believers, the true Christians will shape their life on God’s love and our faith in Jesus Christ. Eternal life begins now and stretches beyond the grave, but it is about the here and now, how we respond to life and treat others as much if not more than what happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil. Heaven is assured to us, so I believe we should live here and now how we hope to live then. We should make this prayer as our guide to living here and now all to the glory of God.
This is how St. Francis lived and this is how we too with God can live too.
Here are some words from St. Francis of Assisi: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way. Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. The deeds you do may be the only sermon some will hear today”
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