Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)
So my “death” is liberating but in a different way than I thought before. I am now seeing my “death” in a different light…let me walk you through some contrasts. See if you can “see” the good-bad wrestling with the objective truth of our adoption.
I have had powerful moments of emotional bliss and joy at the thought of my “death” but it isn’t my “death” that brings me joy. It is the Father’s smile. I was “born again” 2000 years ago and I can say I have experienced “born again” coming alive moments in this reality but it wasn’t my new creation that brought me joy. It was my Father’s smile. I am seated in heavenly places and I have a sense of what that means and the authority it brings but that doesn’t make me feel powerful. I feel power in my Father’s smile. I can rationalize a “death to a sin nature” and have been set free from many destructive behaviors but that doesn’t feel like freedom, really. I find freedom in my Father’s smile.
I understand that a “dead man” shouldn’t feel depressed or gloomy but that isn’t always my reality. I do however find great happiness in my Father’s smile. I should know my adoption and live as a child of God but I don’t always feel that way. I do feel like the most precious son when I see my Father’s smile. I should be casting out demons and raising the dead as one forged in the image of Christ but the dead are still in the grave and I think the demons get too much attention anyway. Still I feel very supernaturally equipped with one smile from my Father. I should be dead to selfishness and human effort bit I still find myself reacting to attacks or criticism in a “not so Jesus way” on occasion. But I feel just like Jesus whenever I see the smile of my Father.
I should be free of anxiety about money and resources and provision since I have every heavenly blessing right there in the Kingdom Bank and Trust but I still have a bit of worry when an unexpected bill arrives or the car breaks down. I should feel so filled with all the fullness of God that I am overflowing with fountains of living water but I have to remind myself of that truth almost every time I leave the house. I am not worried and feel like I am bursting at the seams when I see a smile from my Father.
I should be intoxicated in the Spirit all the time since I am swimming in the glory of His presence but that isn’t always the case. One smile from my Father and I am a plastered fool stumbling around with a giant grin on my face. I should be free from any fallen-Adam thinking or doubts or wisdom since that part of me is supposed to be dead but I still wrestle now and then with dead-end dogmas. One smile from my Father and I have more wisdom than Solomon himself. I should be dead to shame and guilt and condemnation but the past is still in my memory banks and every so often an ugly memory surfaces. Still one smile from my Father and I feel like the past never happened and there is nothing cleaner than me.
There is a great video with Bob Newhart that I think originally aired on Mad TV. It is known as the “stop it” skit. His method of counseling was short and to the point. His answer to His patient’s irrational fears was “stop it.” Check it out on YouTube.
As a pastor and friend and human, I do find those opportunities where the “stop it” method seems to apply but doesn’t answer the questions that linger. The question “why does stuff happen?” drives us crazy. Somewhere, down deep, we feel if we understand the root of a problem then we can get free of the problem. Spiritual healing, inner healing, demon denouncing, declarations, positive thinking, memorizing scripture, reciting scripture, prayer, fasting, accountability, counseling, behavior modification, twelve steps and on and on it goes. Those are all good at addressing symptoms and make us feel better about “doing something.” In some cases “a demon leaves” or something radical happens. It isn’t our effort that fixes the problem but Jesus who is doing the healing.
When there isn’t a miraculous healing then what? All of our effort is “good” but still none of it fixes the problem. All of our effort is “wrestling with a dead guy”…but he sure seems very alive at times. So even “agreeing” with our death on a cross becomes another work of sorts. We find ourselves “working up some faith” or even engaging in activities like “laying down our lives”, “considering ourselves dead”, “participating in our death”, “picking up our cross”, “burring our old man” and on and on it goes. In the middle of all that, which is all good of course, we are just Bob Newhart with our version of “stop it”, aren’t we?
So are we really dead? Would you agree that it doesn’t always feel like my “old self” is dead? It still feels like a dead version of me sometimes acting out and being selfish. What was Paul talking about anyway? Maybe, just maybe what I think I know about my death is something different from what I need to know about my death. Yep it is another one of those “objective truth and subjective reality” things. How about a different perspective of this whole death thing?
John makes it so clear for me when he says the light shines in the darkness and the darkness doesn’t know it. Paul says that Jesus holds all things together including all the bad stuff. God is working through the good-bad. I know that makes you head hurt (as it does mine) but the objective truth is just truth. What makes our heads hurt is our good-bad processor trying to force God through our limited filter. When we try and force the things of God through our human wisdom, we will be perplexed. It doesn’t mean that God wants bad stuff to happen but instead He isn’t limited by our good-bad judgment paradigm. He can use good and bad for His good to shine through. Paul even says that the cross is foolishness to us when we are operating from our human wisdom. So we have to start looking outside our limitations as a fallen Adam and see with our mind of Christ. We can put our good-bad down for a moment and just see the objective truth and ask the hard questions. The answers are usually very simple and obvious once we stop with the good-bad processing.
So our death, what is it? Does it mean that our “bad” died and our “good” lived? That would be awesome but it isn’t true. The light is still shining in the darkness and we still have darkness on the Earth. We are still wrestling with lies about God in our own heads (darkness). We are still evaluating God from our own good-bad experience (darkness). We are still living from past disappointments and failures and circumstance (darkness). Religion is still trying to close a gap that isn’t a gap at all (darkness).
Let me suggest what “died” was everything that gave us a reason to live as an orphan. Every single excuse to live in the illusion of separation has been removed. Anything that roots our identity in a fallen Adam nature (hiding in the bushes, working out of good-bad, eating forbidden fruit for food) has been removed. What died was our identity in Adam. What was resurrected was our identity in Jesus. We are now a new creation in Jesus forever joined to the God-Man. Now there is no place for the “power of Sin” to land. The runways have been removed. We are included and Jesus reveals that as undeniable from within us.
God intended for us to know our adoption and inclusion in His family and Jesus satisfied that intent. God joined man and crossed the gap between the creator and creation. We are not only included but accepted and assured of our adoption. We are “connected” to Jesus in a mystical union that gives us access to the nature of Jesus and the fullness of the Godhead. We can now know God in a way that wasn’t possible for Adam. We are dead to lies about God and alive to the truth that Jesus reveals. I can go on and on about blood and covenants and new creations and all that but let me just say every reason you can possibly imagine for not trusting God has been eliminated. We can trust Him. In that trust we find ourselves and defeat the lies. It is a process (there I said it) and it isn’t always “fun” (dump your good-bad for a moment). It is however joy and peace and a perfect relationship. In Him we find our true identity as His child.
Gal 2:20 The terms, co-crucified and co-alive define me now. Christ in me and I in him! (Jn 14: 20) His sacrificial love is evidence of his persuasion of my righteousness! (The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God. He endorses my innocence. To live by the faith of the son of God means to live in the consciousness of the same sonship that Jesus enjoys.) (Mirror Bible)
This is why I find everything I need in His smile. He has the answers. He has the healing. He has the “deliverance.” He has the joy. He has the happiness. He has everything I need. In Him I am completely completed. Our death is our escape from hiding. Our life in Jesus is our inclusion in the triune family. We are His kids. We had to die to know it.
One thought on “What is our death, really?”
Good stuff, Lance. Amen!
Funny, I used that Bob Newhart video a couple for a message a couple of years ago. It’s a hoot! Two words…no, you don’t need to write it down…stop it!
To quote the Coroner of Oz, we’re not only really dead, we’re really most sincerely dead! We just need to convince our minds and enjoy Papa’s embrace!