Posts Tagged life in Christ

Life in Christ

Romans 6: 23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you appreciative of what Jesus did for you? Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the magnitude of his accomplishment? Is it humbling thinking that he endured all for you, so that you would have a life of blessing and a path to the Father? I find it overwhelming at times. What he did for me is too big to contain. It overpowers my thinking and I, like you, feel enormously grateful.

In those moments, how can we express our gratitude? Is there a meaningful way to bless him in return or to show him our appreciation? I think there is. The way to thank Jesus for what he has done for us is to live our lives unto him, but what does that mean?

I really believe that this is one of the key elements for the time in which we live. The church has lived through many transfigurations and I believe this is the one for us. Step outside yourself for a moment and imagine what the church body as a whole looks like. If a Martian looked down on earth and saw all the Christians how would he describe us? How would he describe the Christian church, by which I mean the body of believers taken together as one collective? It is an interesting exercise.

When we put ourselves in that position, looking at who we are, there are a couple of things which might stand out. The body of Christ is a collective, a group of individuals attempting to work together for a common goal. We might be characterized, though, as very individualistic and thus unity is a meaningful goal. The clearest way for us to rise to any challenge posed us individually or as a body is to live our lives to Christ.

Every day we have the opportunity to fix our eyes on him or not. We get to choose what we will do with our time. Will we seek him or will we let the worries and the pressures of the world dominate our psyche? Will we pray? There are many things vying for our time and our attention. How do we show Jesus that we appreciate what he did for us? I think it is in the small moments of life. Maybe driving to work you talk with him and say that it is your desire that he accompany you all day. And perhaps as you go through your day, you constantly remind yourself that he is with you. Maybe in the shower you sought his mind and his priorities for you and all day you continually check in with him asking, “What’s next Jesus?”

Let’s be really honest here for a moment because the paragraph above can be a little bit pie in the sky, a little out of reach for some. I know it was for me when I was practicing law. I worked way too many hours each week and was rushed all the time. I ate lunch at my desk and kept on working. Honestly, I didn’t find enough time for Jesus. I didn’t pause and consider him. I just buried my head and forged forward. And even when I had a moment of clarity realizing I needed to turn my attention to him, I rarely heard him answer me. Was it that he was not answering and now he loves me a lot more than he did so that is why I hear him speaking to me more often? Maybe you are like I was and don’t hear Jesus’ or the Father’s voice often. Maybe he loves me more than he loves you and that is why he talks to me now.

Well, of course, that is ridiculous. He loves you like he loves the Father and the Father loves you as much as He loves Jesus. Wow! But how can you live your life to him and for him if you never hear him or never feel him? Sometimes, you just have to make a decision and do something whether you feel his presence or not. We turn our minds to Christ and then sometimes what we could do becomes very obvious. In fact, sometimes you won’t know except in retrospect that he just guided you. That is the way it is for me. I will do something, really not knowing if it is me or him or even being mindful and then when I turn around later, I see his footprints and I am so happy I did as he led even when I really didn’t know I was. It has something to do with intention and focus. My intention is to walk in the footsteps he has laid out for me. I ask him to lead me all day and he is good to do it. I don’t always feel him either, but I have found that now that I do look for him, I find him more frequently. I have opened my spirit, my internal self to be more receptive where I once closed off my heart so that I couldn’t be hurt. Now my spirit is awaiting his touch.

What I am attempting to convey is if you are in that frustrating space where you try to live with Jesus, but you don’t feel him or hear him, fear not. There is a way out and it is about being intentional. Ask yourself what living your life for him and to him today would look like? You have some answers down in your spirit right now and only need to tap into the deposit he has already put in you. If you begin your day asking Jesus how you can show your appreciation for him and how to live your day in him you may not yet hear all the audible answers you would like but you will have a sense within you that you can go through the day more connected with him than other days.

We can purpose in our hearts to live in him, continually connected to him and he will lead us in that objective. He will teach us. There is a transformative process which happens to us as we renew our minds to him. He is the transforming agent, not us, but the renewal of the mind is in our purview. We can turn our minds to him, and we should. As we focus on him, he draws us to him.

The bottom line is this, do what you can do but, do something. Be intentional about living your life to him. Talk to him even if you don’t hear the answers right now. Keep at it because he is listening and he is moving in your life. In fact, he may have written this Word of the Day just for you. Show him thanksgiving by giving him not just your life but your today, moment by moment.

Where Am I?

Galatians 2: 20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

This is a beautiful verse, one full of the grace of God and the sacrificial love of Christ. Yet, there was a day when the ideas expressed here challenged me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to die. Even though I pursued God relentlessly, there was a part of me that held back. There was a part of me who had reservations. What does it mean to die to self and live to Christ? What happens when we completely give our lives over to Christ so that the life we presently live is Christ in us?

When I was a young Christian I was on fire for Christ but I wasn’t sure what this meant. Maybe many of you have grown past this but perhaps there are just a few who can relate to the challenge I wrestled with. I wanted to be with Christ. I desired deep, meaningful fellowship with Jesus but I didn’t want to give up who I was. I wondered, “If I give myself to you wholly will I get lost? Where am I if I am in you? Am I afraid of losing my identity? Who will I be? Will I be me?” For all my faults, I liked who I was and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop being me.

This may sound silly to you but I wondered if I would still get to do the worldly things that I enjoy doing such as kayaking and bike riding. I had some thoughts in the back of my mind that I could not be holy and enjoy these activities. Of course, you know the answer. Jesus loves kayaking and Father is an avid cyclist. We do those things together. In fact, many times I rather ride or kayak without other people because that is Dad time. When we all get to heaven, I fully intend to go kayaking with Jesus. I may do it every day. Who knows? They enjoy all those things. The Scriptures say that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6: 17). He isn’t trying to take these things away from us. He is the one who is supplying them. The meaning of a life in and with Christ is that we get to do all these things with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. These activities are actually more fun now than they were because I get to spend that time with some of my very best friends.

I am still me even though I have given myself to Christ. I am just becoming a better version of me. I am Ivey 2.0. The life of Christ is in me. It is coursing through my veins, suffusing my muscles. He is even in my breath. He isn’t taking away from my former life. He has given me new life, more life, and better life. I am dying to the brokenness of the world and being reborn daily by the renewal of my mind in Christ. He opens new doors in my heart, mind and spirit and with each one he breathes new and abundant life into me.

If you have ever been concerned about getting lost in Christ, I have only encouragement for you. There is no downside to letting your former self pass away because the reborn, renewed self is so much more fun to hang out with. If you truly die to self, you will arise with healing in your wings. Jesus will only move into the rooms of your heart which you allow though. You may have been a Christian for 40 years by now but there may still be areas of your heart that are verboten to God. My advice is: throw open the doors and invite Him in. It is all good.

Die For Me

John 13: 38

“Will you lay down your life for Me?”

This was a question Jesus posed to Peter? How would you answer him? Or are you just glad that he didn’t ask you this question? But then again, this is exactly what Jesus requires of each of us. We are required to lay down our life for Jesus and for the gospel. In Matthew 16: 25 Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Therefore, if we want life, then we must relinquish our life. It sounds like an oxymoron but we surrender our lives and take on the life of Christ, a life in him and of him. Paul revealed in Romans 6: 4 that “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians. 4: 11).

This dying or laying aside of our life doesn’t happen once for all. It is the constant laying aside of our ego laden needs and taking up the life of Christ with its mission of love and servitude. This is not an easy task because our ego seeks always to protect itself but this is the call of Christianity, of following after the Christ and walking in his ways.  

Paul further explained this idea in Galatians 2: 20 when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Our life of the flesh has been exchanged for a new life in the Spirit of God wherein we died and were reborn as a child of the Most High, a child of the Spirit. The person we were died and a new person was created in the new birth. Why do we attempt to still live as that old person if he or she died with Christ at the cross? That life we lay down and take up the new life that Christ bought for us at Calvary. That old man was dead in his sin anyway. There was nothing but corruption and decay in his bones but the new man is made in the very image of Christ Jesus, beautiful and radiant.

This is who you are in Jesus but only to the degree that you make a decision to let go of that corpse who is the old you. Believe me, the old man, that old self that each of us knows all too well is decrepit and is better off in the grave. We turned to Jesus and accepted him as Lord because we wanted this new life in him. Most of us were well aware of the state of our inner man. Most of us knew that we needed something, that we needed Jesus to take this sad thing that we were and to make something of it. And that is what he did. He exchanged our lives which were full of decay and death and gave us his life which is the picture of glory and beauty. We died, were crucified with him and were raised up with him in his glory and righteousness but we must make a decision to be renewed in our inner man. God has provided this new life but it is up to us to allow the life of Christ to be born in our inner man. It is not automatic. We have to choose to lay down our lives for Christ. He asks us just as he asked Peter, “Will you lay down your life for me?” This is a question each of us must ask ourselves because this is the essence of the new life, the reborn man and the life in Christ. This death and resurrection in Christ is what happens after we say the sinner’s prayer. We decide that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1: 21). We choose to let our old self with all of its baggage and problems die and be put away. We give ourselves to Jesus as Lord, pledge ourselves to him and his service and we are raised up in him to a new person full of glory and righteousness.

Let go of yourself. You have died with Christ now bury that old man and let him rest in peace. Don your new life in Christ. Let go of the self-absorbed concerns and turn your life over to him. He will glorify and exalt you when you give your life to him. He will raise you up and give you the abundant life which is your inheritance and which he came to give you. Bury the old man and take up the life Christ has for you.