The Rev’d Robert Warren
The Rev’d Robert Warren
“...unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains
just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
The instinct to preserve one’s self is strong. That tugging that you feel on the other side of the fishing line is the big Northern Pike telling you he’s not prepared to climb into the boat without a fight. The quite amazing speed you build up when there’s an angry doberman pinscher at your heels is much more than you ever thought you’d be capable of - off you go and over the six foot fence like a rabbit! Organisms preserve themselves by fighting back, by fleeing, by making excuses and telling lies. They insist on their share of food and they fight for territory. Away from the primeval forest and in the city this behaviour may land people in trouble. It gets them done for perjury when they lie in court to preserve themselves or their goods or it winds them in deeper trouble when they act dishonestly or violently in order to build themselves up at somebody else’s expense. The day’s court docket is forever filled with people who behave like superb wild animals.
We might, on the other hand, be concerned about somebody who had too weak a survival instinct. If our child were constantly on the losing side and seemed to invite this sort of result by his or her attitude we’d tell them to build some reasonable boundaries - to dive in and defend themselves a little more and to fight a little harder. If a manager didn’t seem committed to making his or her project work we might suspect that they were missing the necessary aggressive commitment necessary to make a piece of work succeed.
“Staying alive” (as the Disco song puts it) is generally a good thing and a worthy pursuit. But is this always the case?
There is much in life which is a matter of giving, weakening ourselves and even dying for the sake of another. It’s not only heroes of note or do this: We do it when we marry, by giving up our corner of the earth and allowing our strength to nurture another. We do it when we bring children into the world or when we commit ourselves to the welfare of others in community. The Saints have done it across the age for the sake of strangers, the sick and the needy. There is something about the nature of the love which God expresses in Christ, who willingly die for us in the midst of our world that will forever define what love is. Love is strongest when it is given away even if the lover used up in the process.