Have You Died Lately?

Jesus said to everyone, all who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.

But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him.  We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him.  He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life.  In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.

-Luke 9:23, Romans 6:8-1, Galatians 2:20

I began hearing a tune with a lone trumpet, in my heart, over and over; especially as I prayed.  I got the impression that this tune was the music of death, farewell, and sunset.  "Who died?", I asked.

I thought about the call to die to self.  I thought about taking up our crosses.  I thought about how Jesus says that if we want to be his disciple, we must take up our own crosses.  I personally do want to be Jesus disciple, so the cross-walk is not an option.

How do we die to self?  How are we crucified with Christ?  Jesus was crucified once for all the sins of the world: past, present, and future.  All my sins were dealt with or paid for that day.  But today, I still need to take up my cross, the instrument of my death, daily.  But, what does that mean?

At the cross, our sin is expunged: past, present, and future sin.  We get to go to the other side of the cross and have Jesus' resurrection life live through us.  The cross means death, but God brings resurrection life into our lives that have been through the cross.

Salvation or sanctification is a process.  You are getting saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaved.  That is why Jesus calls each one to take up their cross, daily.  That is why, in many of the letters in the New Testament, to the churches, we read about Christians sinning.

So, the normal Christian life, which is joyous and fulfilling, is also filled with funerals.  Our own selfishness and sin has to be put to death, let go of, crucified, and buried.

Eugene Petersen translates Luke 9:23 as Jesus saying, "you have to let me lead".  Some people have lived lives of control and being controlling.  We have to get our own way.  Sometimes controlling people are controlling because they are afraid of being out of control.  One of the things that all Christians learn is that we are not in control.  We say, "Jesus is Lord", when we get saved, but then we each must make Jesus Lord of our individual lives.

My pastor used to say how people make the mistake of thinking Christ is an add-on to the house of our lives, when he really wants to take over our whole houses.  C.S. Lewis made the same point:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself!" 
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
What needs to hear "Taps" and have a funeral?  The parts of our selves that are not in-Christ.  The parts of us that are not raised from the dead, resurrected in Christ.  'Christian' does not just mean a believer, but a transformed person who is being transformed by Christ today.

Have you died lately?  Have you had to let something die in your self that needs to go, because Christ has not transformed it through the cross and his resurrection?  My pastor used to always say that there is one prayer God will always answer, and it is, "Lord, what is wrong with me?"

The way we live the Christian life is in Christ.  If a part of our life is not in Christ or needs to go through the cross, then that very part will trip us up and cause us pain.  There are parts of our lives that do not work, they cause slow-downs, and dysfunctions.  These areas need upgrades into Christ-likeness.

One of the issues of transformation into Christ-likeness, is trusting God.  Amy Grant had a song called "Got To Let It Go", where she sung:
Lord, here's my heart,
I've been keeping it from you,
And I got to let it go.
Holding on just breaks me, worry,
Got to let it go,
Come and take it from me, hurry,
Got to let it go.
Go to let it -- got to let it go.
Got to give up all of my control!
God is saying to give up your control and let him take the wheel, like Carrie Underwood  song, "Jesus Take The Wheel":
Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I'm on
Jesus take the wheel
When Jesus was raised from the dead, and came back for 40 days, before he ascended, he did not talk about heaven, as in, "now you can go to heaven, I was just there".  No, he didn't talk about that, but he talked to them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

Before the cross, Jesus' message was the kingdom of God, and it was the same after he rose from the dead.   The message of the kingdom is God's kingly rule breaking into the earth realm and taking over and transforming lives of God's mission in Jesus to save the world.

All the trans-formative work God wants to do in each one of us is to give us better, more Christ-like, lives now, in this earthly life.  You die, he lives.  That is good news.  The parts of our lives where we haven't met Christ and let him take over, because we are afraid, or don't believe, have to die, so Christ can live there.  We stretch our faith to believe that God the Father really does want to take care of everything in each of his children's lives.