“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 I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19b-20)
DYING AND BEING TRANSFORMED
Paul says some things here that are at the heart of his understanding of how radically his life has been changed, as a disciple of Christ. Additionally, these verses say something important about the new life in Christ for anyone.
Before we encounter Christ, there is mostly ego - my life, my wisdom, my will, my money, my family, my friends, my job, my choices, my belief in myself, my opinions, my perspective, my power. Think of just about any aspect of life and put a “my” in front of it, and that pretty much sums up life without Christ, or life before we have encountered Christ. We act like we are the center of the universe. Perhaps, without admitting it or saying it out loud to anyone, we act as if we are God. “I am the one in control here!”
Paul is a good example for us to look at. As Saul, he was “blameless”, and quite full of himself. Listen to what he says to the Philippians:
“If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
Then he continues, “Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.” (Philippians 4b-9)
Through his encounter with Christ, Paul learned that he had to die - to himself, to his ego, to his “false self”, so that his “small I” could be inhabited by the “GREAT I”, the great “I AM.” In the process of dying, of being “crucified with Christ”, then he could really soar and be that all God called him to be.
When you and I say yes to Christ, we are saying yes to this dying to self/ego, so that we can “live by faith in the Son of God.”
This is not my old life with me allowing Christ to influence a few things when I say it’s okay. No. When we say yes to Christ, we die, and begin A… WHOLE… NEW… LIFE - a life in which Christ lives in me and calls the shots, and (remembering Paul’s words in Philippians), we suffer the loss of all “things” - the non-essentials - and regard them as rubbish.
These days, as I get ready to quit my job and set out on this cross-country walk on behalf of children - a walk that I believe Christ put upon my heart - I am being reminded (in spades!) that I am betting everything on Christ’s love, guidance, grace, and provision… that he does in fact reside in me, and that He is the only one I can trust with my life, with Julia’s life, with Zach and Hannah’s lives… with anyone’s life!
This is what made Paul’s ministry so powerful - even from prison! This is what made Dr. King’s ministry so powerful - even from prison! They trusted in Christ, and in Christ alone, for everything that they needed.
Many people are supporting me in my walk. I am so aware of this that one of the things that I keep saying to people is that I am not doing this alone. I am being supported and sometimes carried by all of the people who are praying for me, encouraging me, making phone calls on my behalf, giving money before the walk even begins, etc. And, as I see it, those people are all acting as vessels of Christ. Christ is working through them, because Christ lives in them, too!
One of the biggest things for me to keep learning on this walk will be to trust, more and more deeply, in Christ. I am not going to make it 100,000 steps, much less 6 or 7 million steps, by trusting in my own devices. So I must keep dying, keep letting go, keep surrendering my will or any false notions that I am in charge or that I know what is going to happen - because I don’t!
I am holding onto this: Christ lives in me; the Spirit lives in me. Christ lives in Julia, in all of you, and in all the people that I will be meeting along the way. That is the only assurance that I have. That is the only assurance I am going to get. And that is the only assurance that I need.