For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Not only is the cross the historical point of our atonement, it is also a demonstration of what God expects his children to do. It is not part of God’s plan to have his children stand and stare.
Even more important, the church as an institution or even as a movement has been born to die. Someday there will simply be no need for the church. The church is the vessel of the Holy Spirit in the world, the bodily presence of God in the world. When Scripture teaches that someday, at the end of history, the dwelling place of God will be with man, and He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them as their God it is saying that the church will come to an end.
As long as there is a sinful, imperfect world there will be a place for the church. But, that day is coming when our imperfection will be washed away and replaced with perfection and we will become the dwelling place of God where all that is imperfect is no more.
Jesus also tell us that he does not need the church to change the world. God certainly does use us to be agents of change in the world, but he does not NEED us. God does not wait on the church or limit himself due to our lack of faith.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the Pharisees told him to silence the mobs who proclaimed him king and Messiah. Christ made it quite clear that God’s praiseworthiness would be revealed. If the people did not do it, the rocks and stones themselves would cry out (Luke 19:40). We are dependent on Christ. He uses us simply because he loves us.
Because the church is born to die, the preservation of the institution of the church is unimportant. In fact, we should be longing for that day when the church will be no more! Therefore our power comes from emptying ourselves, the same way Christ did on the cross. As we empty ourselves, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. If we are filled with our own desire for self-preservation, we leave no room for the Spirit and the church does not do its work in the world. Death to self means alive to carry out the work of Christ.