Christianity 201

June 9, 2011

Extreme Makeover Home Edition Begins with Demolition

Cynthia lives in the northeast United States and has been reading my other blog for as long as I can remember.  Although she’s not presently writing herself, yesterday I paged through some of her 2009 posts, and decided to share this one here.   It originally appeared under the title I Want to Die.

“I die every day. I really mean that, brothers and sisters”
The Apostle Paul
1 Corinthians 15:31 (NIV)

It has occured to me over the past few days that I may have been praying the wrong prayer. For years I have been asking God to “Make me more like Jesus”. But in doing this have I been requesting a renovation rather than a demolition, a makeover rather than a crucifixion?

In my quest for Christ likeness, have I flattered myself into thinking that there are parts of me that are alight? Perhaps I could be spruced up with a coat of fresh paint or maybe a double glazed window would stop the draft in the front room. My wiring might need tweeking to bring it up to code but all in all, I have the makings of a good person, don’t I?

As I have thought about Paul’s words, that he died daily, I have also thought of the implications of our modern gospel message.  We have grown fond of presenting Christ as a wonderful addition to our lives, as a friend and a companion, a guide and a source of strength when we are weak. Because we have not been taught the  need for the crucifixion of self, we cannot fathom what Paul is talking about in Corinthians when he says that he dies every day? I like this analogy presented by Dr. Bill Gillham (lifetime.org)

“The King is Dead! Long Live the King!” When I was a kid, I heard a Shakespearean actor in a film make such a statement and was thoroughly confused. How could the king be dead but alive at the same time? Little did I know that he was talking about two different people! Indeed, the former king had died and was no longer king…he had ceased to exist! But the new king, who could never have emerged as king had the old king not died, lives indeed! So long as the old king remained alive, the new king could not be “born.” But after the one’s “birth” as the new king, the old king could never again resurrect himself because he had no capability for self-resurrection! The very existence of the one precludes the existence of the other and vice versa!

So if one nature is killed in order to make a place for the new nature that has been promised by Christ, why then must we “die daily”?

In Ephesians 4, Paul puts it another way. Rather than a makeover (which appeals to our natural pride), he required the new believers to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”. We are not told to wash our old self or tidy it up or to renovate our exisiting structure, but to remove it, demolish it, crucify it.

By faith we know that we have been redeemed and reclaimed by the shedding of Christ’s blood. Within each believer, Christs Spirit takes up residence as King and we are new creatures from the moment we confess our belief in Jesus and repent of our sins. Yet this declaration is a war cry and from the first moment on, Satan will use every angle he knows to get a foothold and reclaim the throne. But we are Christ’s and the Word tells us that nothing can snatch us from His hands.  Even so, by God’s design, we are the ones who decide how much of ourselves will be crucified , how many of our desires will be set aside and how much of our energy will be committed to living out what the Spirit requires of us.

If we cling to our egocentric belief that our own efforts and talents are good enough, than we hamper our ability to be fully used by God. But when we commit ourselves to the daily crucifixion of self , it is then that we can rise to the incredible heights He has planned for us.

For this reason I lift my voice this day and cry out to God …”I want to die”

He must increase, but I must decrease.
John the Baptist
 John 3:3o

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