The musical icon Prince leaves behind a myriad of songs and lyrics alluding to Christian theology, conversation about Jesus Christ, and eschatological times. One could say that Prince was somewhat of a pop theologian.
One of his songs, ‘I Would Die 4 You’ is one of those songs, and it opens with these words: “I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand. And if you’re evil I’ll forgive you by and by ‘cause you, I would die for you.” The lyrics paint a Messiah who is loving, and willing to do anything for the person, including laying down his life. The theological struggle is that the song is written in future tense, and not in past tense. Jesus has already died for us. What the song can help us understand is that for Jesus’ death to mean anything, we have to believe that he would die for us—and that we also must be willing to die for him.
Jesus death on the cross puts words into action. Can we sing this song to Jesus: ‘I Would Die 4 You’?
Recently, there was a shooting at the MTA bus terminal in Nashville. People are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others for meaningless things and reasons. We need to be careful about for whom and what we are willing to lay down our lives. Paul writes that for us to live, we must die for Christ: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
We struggle with giving up what we want, our desire to sin, and to crucify the flesh so that we can live a life pleasing to Jesus Christ. For us to be willing to die for Christ, we have to be willing to give up the desires of the flesh, our plans and objectives and seek Christ.
The death of which Paul speaks is not a physical death. It is a spiritual death. We cannot put to death sin without God’s grace. We need grace to die the same death as Christ, die to sin, and rise to be a new person in Christ. Dying to our flesh encompasses a commitment to Christ to risk our lives for what he has called us to do. It is a confession of faith: ‘I Would Die 4 You.’ For us to die for Christ, we have to know that he would and has died for each of us.