Learning how to Die #1

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

-Jesus

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

– Paul

The New Testament speaks of following Christ as a new life. The former life is left behind and there is a cosmic shift in which one who choses to follow the way of Jesus is transformed. The writers commonly refer to ‘death’ of the old self, and the ‘new birth’ of a new individual.

Paul makes this statement:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:5-11)

But my struggle is this: How do I die? Well, how do I make this ‘death’ idea meet reality?

My soul, it longs for the warmth and love of the new life, as experienced by so many of my Christian brothers and sisters.
To this end, I prayed to the Lord, and I asked him how to die. Maybe a new prayer would do the trick, or an ascetic practice, or fasting, or some other form of self-renunciation will cause this dying.

Yet this is not what the Lord said to me.

Instead he pointed me towards this verse:

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? (2 Corithians 3:7-8)

So the pathway to death is bound in the story of God, the giving of his law to the people. How comforting, to know that one can be consumed with God at any point along the journey.

But what does that mean, here, now. Ok so the law brings me to death, so that I may receive new life.
I think, right now, that means remembering the root of the law:

Love God
Love others

How can it fail to kill the self? It seems plain to me. Maybe that’s because I asked to Lord to reveal it to me.

But tomorrow morning, the rubber will meet the road, I will encounter a day of lectures and work and socialising and fun.

And I want to love God, and love others.

If God has shown me this much, perhaps I can ask more of Him? What if I ask him to show me, specifically, how to love Him and others in my immediate context – college life.

God seems to have been gracious to me thus far.

Heavenly Father
Those two words contradict: how can you be heavenly yet my father?
All praise and glory to you, for your mercy and grace
You have shown me the path to death, the road I must travel
Let me freely and joyfully surrender my life
In service of you and others
And assume the identity of Christ
To experience the new life
Re-birth
The next breath

Show me, gracious master
The way of death, today,
What it means, here and now
That I might be united with you
For your glory
Amen

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2 Comments

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  1. Have you considered that actually you aren’t required to DO anything because it’s already been DONE for you. Jesus plus ANYTHING = nothing. ALL you have to do is stop worrying, stop striving, and rest in what Jesus has already DONE for you? Isn’t that what the verse the Lord showed you is saying. (James 2) The Royal LAW of Moses brought death to those under it and yet it was glorious. The Perfect Law of Liberty trhrough Jesus and the power of the HOly Spirit which has brought life to all those who just believe in Jesus is so much more glorious. Just rest in what Jesus has done for you and stop striving and worrying.

    I’ve tried it – it works – my life is wonderful because I stopped trying to get it right, I stopped trying to please God I stopped trying to live according to the Royal Law and am now resting in the Law of Liberty enjoying the righteousness of Jesus because I don’t have to be righteous.

    xxx

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  2. The question I am trying to explore is the idea of ‘death to self.’ It seems a significant metaphor/idea in the New Testament, and is an image of conversion into the faith. Whilst I do definitely believe that Christ has done all that is necessary to bring me to salvation, I’m trying to figure out my response to that in the light of God’s love and grace.

    I do believe I have to do something in response to the salvation that has been won for me. My response to Christ is my obedience. Certainly, Jesus issued many commands during his ministry – we are commanded to love! However, any act I do in obedience to God is in the context of his Spirit working in me to form me into the person he wants me to be. The Spirit stirs my heart to be inclined to obey God, and grants me willingness to submit to his rule.

    I believe in Christ, yes, yet the demons do this too. It is the outworking of this faith in our shared, experiential reality which demonstrates my faith.

    Seeking to obey God is not an attempt to earn salvation, but the only proper way to respond to the salvation granted us by Christ.

    I really want the fullness of salvation to be manifested in my life, and I believe a part of that is the ‘dying’ of the self. God has been kind in showing me how that works, giving me the desire to persevere and the strength to do so.

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