Last week on a social media site that I frequent, I saw this quote: “Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.” It is attributed to a man named Nicolaus Zinzerdorf. It really resonated with me and over the last several days, keeps coming to mind. In my opinion, it is a succinct summary of the goals a believer should have for their life.
After Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He appeared to different people over a 40 day period. First to Mary Magdalene, then to the three women who came to the tomb, then to Peter, and then to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Then Jesus appeared to the 11 remaining disciples (Judas Iscariot was false, and dead at this point) and gave the commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19) This is known as the Great Commission, and it applies to all believers for all time. We are to share the good news (gospel) with all the lost people of the world, telling them that: there is hope in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and therefore a way to avoid God’s wrath and eternal torment in hell/lake of fire, through belief in Jesus as the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins, and was raised on the third day. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
The second part of the quote, to ‘die and be forgotten’ runs counterintuitive to our human nature. That is typical of anything biblical. It is backwards and unnatural to us. Natural man yearns to be acknowledged, admired, worshiped and remembered. Our cultural obsession with celebrities is evidence of this, is it not? For the believer, however, we are to be like Jesus cousin John the Baptist, the last (before Messiah) and greatest prophet who rightly said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) You see, it is not about us, but about Him. The purpose of our lives is not to build a legacy of ourselves, but to glorify God. Isaiah 43:7 tells us “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made,” and Ephesians 1:11 says “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the council of His will.” We were created for His glory and to do His will. And what is His will? That we obey Him. One of the ways we obey Him is by doing what He commanded: to go and make disciples of all nations. Which is done by proclaiming the gospel.
Yesterday, I wrote about how everything is for God’s glory, and this post ties right into that. A Christian who is living an obedient life to the Lord will obey His commands, will share the gospel with the lost, and will do all of this in such a way that it points not to self, but to God alone, for His glory alone. Our little saying that we started out with is a beautiful summation of an obedient life: proclaiming the gospel, dying, and being forgotten. Because it wasn’t all about the believer, but about the One in whom they believed.
Lord, may it be so for me.
Soli Deo Gloria! (glory to God alone)