20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
In looking at Matthew 6:25-33 yesterday I shared what I see as a common misinterpretation of what Jesus says about worry and faith. Our text for today highlights what might be one of the misunderstood aspects of the Christian life in general.
In our culture we highly value growth. We celebrate those we perceive as successful. We encourage others to be ambitious in establishing their goals and we are encouraged to do all we can do in our own lives to achieve our dreams.
And do not misunderstand me… These are all really good things!
These are values I hope I am helping instill in my own kids.
However, faith in Christ invites us to understand an incredibly important distinction between what I do and what Christ can do in me.
The first half of Philippians 4:13 is an attractive promise… “I can do all things…” And we could easily miss what is the greater emphasis found in the second half of Philippians 4:13. Here is the full verse.
“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
I think you could even make the argument that it would be more accurate (though perhaps it may sound a bit more confusing) to hear Paul as saying, “through Christ whose strength is the strength at work in me.”
So what does all of that have to do with Galatians 2:20?
I am so glad you asked!
What is often missed is that the Christian life is not about us becoming more than we were before. It’s actually the exact opposite. It is in dying to ourselves - to our wants, our wishes, our desires, our needs, etc. - that Christ becomes more alive in us.
We do not become more. We actually become less. My job as a follower of Jesus is to die! (I know it may sound strange) And the reason I must die is so that Christ might become more fully alive!
My hunch is that to the extent that you have already thought about how you want your life to be better at the end of 2018, this reflection has not left you to think, “I really want to get better at dying!”
And yet, it is here that we find another great mystery of our faith which Jesus articulates for us in Luke 9:24.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
How might Christ be challenging you to get better at dying so that Christ might come more fully alive in you this year?
P.S… If I have left you completely confused, my email is email@example.com. :)
Loving and gracious God, help me to approach a new year with the right expectations. I want to grow but I confess that I might need more guidance in understanding what growth I most need to pursue. And so today, I again place my life and my future in your hands. I surrender my life to you and pray that this day and every day your strength would be the strength at work in me. Help me to die so that the life I live might fully belong to you. AMEN.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.