My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
I have heard it said that being a Christian is simple, but hard, and we tend to make it complex, but easy. Being a Christian is simple because even a child can grasp that the essence of the faith is simply to trust in Jesus. It is hard because following Jesus means releasing all of our other heart attachments that pull us in other directions. And this is difficult for us because there is a part of us that does not want to give up those things. Therefore, in order to follow Jesus we need to deny a part of who we are: the old self.
Preferring to avoid what is hard, we want to choose what is easy, even though it is more complex. We may think to ourselves, “Give me seven steps to successful Christian living or a five-point plan for fruitfulness in God’s kingdom.” But these easy-complex strategies, though perhaps well-intentioned, do not address the core problem. We are not race cars in need of a tune-up to achieve maximum performance. We are barely-running clunkers destroying ourselves and others in a life-long demolition derby with the unrealistic hope that we will end up at the top of the heap in the end. What we really need is to be pulled out of that arena so we can be totally transformed by a master mechanic into a Formula One car. We need to become a new car that is part of a new team with a new owner and a new driver who races us on new tracks to win new races cheered on by huge crowds of witnesses, all of which we never even dreamed of before.
This is why the cross is so important. Not only did Jesus pay the full cost of forgiveness for all our sins on the cross, but because Jesus was the representative of all humanity, we were with him as he hung on the cross. When he died, there was a part of us that died too, but it was the part of us that needed to die. It was the part of us that was keeping us from God because it wanted to keep fixing and feeding that beat-up bucket of rust that our old life has been. With the crucifixion of Jesus, we are now free to let that old beater die while we rest in the love of our Master Mechanic.
Upon the death of our old self, Jesus gives us a new life with him where our life is based, not on our performance, but entirely on faith in him. As he pulls the cracked pistons out of our block and uses a cutting torch to chop off our rusty quarter panels, it is going to hurt, but not as much going to a crusher when our engine finally dies. Jesus will do those removals with love in his hands, and after the pain passes, we will find that we are freer, more vibrant and more centred in who we are as a new person in Christ.
It is a transformation process that begins now but will not be complete until that day when Jesus completes our new life with him in the new heaven and earth to come. He will call us forth from the grave and give us our old body recreated and made new. Our new resurrection body will never grow old, never get sick and never die. We will see Jesus face to face and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.
Jesus’ crucifixion is our crucifixion and his resurrection is our resurrection. Let’s gather at the cross and let him lovingly put to death that part of us that needs to die so that he can raise us to a new and better life with him. Following Jesus is simple, and with our old self dead on the cross and Jesus living his life in us, it’s also easy.
Dear Jesus, thank you for going to the cross for me. Help me to surrender to you and your love. I look forward to the transforming work that you will be doing in me. Amen.