“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
For what are you living?
Is it for your family?
For your career? For your retirement?
For finding fulfillment? For happiness?
For wealth or security?
If any of these are the first things that came to mind, or are the goals into which most of your mental and emotional energy flows, you are living primarily for your self. The self-life – living by our own efforts for the goals or purposes we have chosen – is not that for which Christ died to redeem you. It is not that which is worthy of the lion’s share of your time and attention.
And it is sadly a form of idolatry. Idol worship is not about little statues (or big ones). Idol worship is putting self or any other things ahead of the one true God each day. Not ahead in just your words. Words measure nothing unless they measure your actions. What captures the most time in your attention, affections, motivations, energies and expenditures of resources? Whatever that is, it is your god. If it is not the true God, then that is an idol.
Jesus died for all, that we should no longer live for ourselves or any of the other lesser things that capture our attention. Jesus died for all that we should give Him the priority in our living every single day. Not just Sundays and Wednesday nights. Every. Single. Day.
This is what our redemption is about. This is what the resurrection we are celebrating is about. This is our calling and it is to become our magnificent obsession. “…Fixing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith” in Hebrews 12:2.
Besides the good news of being freed from the tyranny of a self-derived life with self-derived goals and purposes, there is more good news. We can be freed from the other great tyranny besetting so many Christians today – the tyranny of trying to please our God by our own efforts. Efforts at sin management and sin reduction. Efforts at trying to “balance” our lives so we spend “enough time” doing good things and attending religious functions. The list is long here, but you knew that.
These things are tyranny because they are not how we are to live our lives as disciples of Christ. Only one person can live “the Christian life,” and that is Christ Himself. And He intends to live that perfect Christian life in you. And this is the good news for those of you who are trying to “make it as a Christian” by means of these tyrannical practices.
You can stop now. Jesus intends to live His perfect life in you and through you by His Holy Spirit in you.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10
This is how we work out our salvation each day, by the life of Christ in us. We surrender control of every aspect of our living to Him, and begin letting Him build a life fixated upon Him above self and every other distraction. When we make this shift, amazing things begin to happen. Our God pours out His love into us so we can love Him with all our being – the Great Commandment is fulfilled in us by the Holy Spirit, not by our own efforts. That love poured out in us also brings us to loving others, including the unlovely and the lost – the Great Commission begins to be fulfilled in us. We yield to Jesus in everyday choices and situations, and He lives His life through us – holiness begins to take over our living, and the holiness of God becomes evident in us.
In short, we are saved in practical terms every day by His life in us, and not by our efforts to get better and try harder. Saved from self, from sin, from tyranny, from the world, from everything that needs to be defeated in us. He alone can do this work in us, for we are not capable. If you have not already discovered this for yourself, Paul waxes eloquently on it in Romans chapters 6, 7, and 8.
“Could it be that God’s plan for rescuing mankind through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling Spirit of God in believers, means that the life Jesus lived is the life we all can live – each of us? From what we see and hear from Jesus and the apostles and the writers of the New Testament, and even the OLD Testament, I think that is exactly what God’s plan is. But – BUT! – I am not talking about us, you or me, TRYING to gut out the Christian life, TRYING to produce the life of Christ. I would guess that most of us, if we’re honest, have pretty much proved we cannot do it. And that may have been a source of real disappointment, discouragement, frustration, and disgust throughout life. Let me set your mind at ease right now. You cannot do it. STOP TRYING!” – Michael J. Wolfe
Now this is truly the good news!