Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Living Out Our Death

Living out our death?

I often hear believers talk about "dying to self," and I myself have used that language often and know the passion and desire that gives birth to such statements. But recently I have sensed God telling me to check out the Scriptures to discover what He really says about us being dead to self. When I did, another old paradigm bit the dust. I discovered that I am already dead! Yep, that's what Paul says, and in more than one place! So instead of dying to self, I am instead to by faith live out the implications of being dead :-) Let me quote a few scriptures that Papa showed me.

Romans 6:3-7, 10-11 (NRSV) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For whoever has died is freed from sin.
10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

And Colossians 3:2-3 (NRSV) says something similar: 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

So, we are already dead, and by faith we now get to "put to death" the ways of the old nature (see Colossians 3:5ff and Romans 8:13).

Next, if we go to Galatians 2:20 we discover another very important thing about all of this: we can't live out our death unless the Life of God is fully at work in us. There Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." What this means in a nutshell is that if I resort to human effort and try to "put myself to death" or please God, I will fail. Instead I must open myself up ever more fully to the power of God's Spirit, allowing Him to pour love into me, speak into my life and empower me to obey Him. He will also, of course, give me the power to trust what God says about me: that I am indeed dead to self!

Well, I could write more, and perhaps I will at some point. There is a place for us to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2), and I don't want to suggest that we shouldn't do this daily (but please note that in Romans 12 Paul says to present our "bodies," not our "flesh" to God--think about this and God will show you why this is an important difference!). And there is a place to seek to live in absolute surrender and enter ever more deeply into a yielded life. But if we think of putting our self to death, we are trying to do something that God has already done and we are putting the focus back on human effort (I put myself to death rather than living out the death Jesus gave to me as I shared in His death with Him).

Just a thought. What do you think?

May you become totally lost in His love and never find your way back out!

Tom, the least of Abba's children

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Transparent Thoughts from Tom's Journal

Hmmm. I am a bit pressed for time this week, so I am sharing something from my journal from several months ago. It is a summary of my pondering about why we sometimes struggle when others succeed. Maybe it will be of some encouragement to you.

As I reflected in your presence this morning, Father, I realized that our envy of people who are more “successful” than we are grows out of our own insecurity and self rejection. If we reject who it is that you have made us to be, and if we view life in terms of performance rather than obedience, then we will inevitably feel bad about those who achieve more than we do. But if we accept ourselves and become free from self rejection and self disgust; if we come to a place of true humility where we joyfully slip into the little spot you have for us in the grand scheme of things, then we rejoice at the success and the honor of others with complete sincerity and no envy or personal regret. I ask then, Father, that you heal in me whatever wounds are left, whatever “father wounds” are there that make me so afraid to look at my life and so afraid to accept myself and my role. I ask for this not out of self absorption but out of a desire to be free from self once and for all, so that I can indeed “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple,” so that I can seek you and you alone and live only for your glory, completely secure in my role in my destiny; completely free to rejoice in the success, prosperity and achievements of others.

Abba, as you answer my prayer based on Psalm 139: 23-24, and as I become more and more aware of your love and acceptance of me in spite of my abysmal sinfulness, I am undone by your love and the extent of your grace, and I faintly begin to see how the great saints of the past could refer to themselves as the "blackest of sinners"! (“Holy Obedience,” in A Testament of Devotion, page 67). Thank you for your amazing grace, Papa!

Well that's it for this time.

May you find yourself truly secure in His love,

Tom, Abba's least child