Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
This is an extremely important verse that is the absolute key to living as God intends His children to do. Since we are in the world but not of it, (John 17:14-16) how are we to live? This verse tells us: by faith. And that’s not some nebulous, abstract faith, either. It is concrete, practical faith in the Son of God who loved us enough to give Himself for us. Our flesh is really stubborn, which is why Paul uses the extreme expression of saying he is crucified and dead. Dead people are immune to temptation! Actually, this is exactly the same image Jesus used for those who would follow Him. “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) We get so caught up with trying to preserve our lives that we lose them completely, when the Biblical pattern is to believe in the One who threw His life away for us, letting go of our lives so that we may lay hold of His. The image of the monkey trap jar comes to mind. I’m told that if you leave a treat that monkeys really like in a jar with a mouth just large enough for the monkey to get his hand in, but too small to pull his hand back out if he is grasping the treat, you can trap monkeys very easily. (Of course, the jar has to be tethered in some way to keep the monkey from running off with it.) We are like that with the pleasures of this life. God has indescribable riches prepared for us, but we tend to refuse to let go of the trinkets of this life in order to receive the treasures He has for us. Paul discovered that accepting the cross of Christ as his own freed him to live the life of Christ even in this world. That doesn’t happen instantaneously. Paul very famously wrote, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14) That’s what life in Christ looks like.
This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone. I can “hang onto the trinkets” with the best of them! As I tell others, it takes empty hands to receive. I must not fall into the trap of telling truth to others and then failing to live by it myself. After over 60 years as a Christian, I am all too aware of my ability to deceive myself! (James 1:22) That’s why I identify with Paul’s awareness of his own imperfection. As a pastor, I must not project the image that I think I’m perfect. Rather, I am to walk alongside the believers as together we allow the Holy Spirit to perfect us.
Father, You’ve given me another message when I haven’t shared the last one you gave me! Help me know clearly what You want me to say, this Sunday and each time You allow me to speak, so that Your Word may indeed go forth by Your Spirit to accomplish that for which You send it, (Isaiah 55:10-11) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!