I’m a somewhat typical male, so one of my favorite movies is, of course, “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”(warning: dark humor ahead). In one scene they are recalling the effects of black plague and the great numbers of people who died. The scene is uncomfortable and yet, I regretfully admit, it is also humorous. In the scene a middle-aged man brings out an older man, tossed over his shoulder, to be carried off. He pays the man who has come by, but then the older man raises up from his position and says, “I’m not dead yet.” To which the man carrying him says, “Yes he is, don’t listen to him.” Anyway, the skit continues on in that vein.
Why do I bring that up? Because I realize I’m not dead yet – and I need to be. Yes, I said I need to be dead. Not dead, dead, but dead to myself – like it says in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
I must “die to myself” and be raised with Christ. I need to put to death my old self to discover the new creation God has for me in Christ Jesus.
Does this mean I must give up who I am to follow Jesus? Do I no longer get to be the person I am just because I am a Christian? Absolutely not the case. It’s not that we have to give up who we are, we just have to give up what is broken in us in order to get what is unbreakable in Jesus.
For example, I have had to die to my desire for worldly success, which means if I go to my 30th high school reunion next year I must be content with having less than others and not being seen as a great success (which, at one time would have been important).
I have had to, and still need to, give up my desire to be known by important people. The reality is, I like to be recognized and known by people of importance and stature, I like to be well thought of by people who matter. I don’t pursue that recognition, but I value it. I have to let that part of me die and accept that being known by Christ is better than being known by any others – and Christ is all that I need for the life that is truly life. I have to give up my misguided notions and live in the truth that the love of God is all that is necessary. In doing so, I die to myself and I find a better life.
I have to die to my desire for food as a source of comfort and reassurance. I have a real issue with food – my enjoyment of eating causes real problems for my wardrobe – and eventually my health. If I die to myself in my addiction to food, the life I find instead will be much better. If I live to let Christ be my comfort and the bread of life for me, then I will know life that is truly life. If I die to the things that keep me focused on me, and on the things of this world, and I instead live for Christ, then I will find life and find it in its fullness. I know that because I have died to self in some ways. I know that because I have found a greater life than I once knew. The problem is, I’m not dead yet.
I’m not dead yet to everything that keeps me from finding life. I hold on to some habits and sinful ways because I think those things make my life better. I’m wrong, of course, but until I die to those things I won’t know the life I’m missing.
I look forward to being dead, but I’m not dead yet. Thanks be to God who sends His Holy Spirit to transform me more and more.
How about you? Are you more dead today than yesterday (and thereby more alive)? Are you allowing the Spirit to move you toward being more dead tomorrow?
Holy high-five to you,