Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm the Zombie Bride of Jesus

34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34-35 NKJ


20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 Amplified


Have you died lately? As Christians we are called to give up our lives and let Christ live within us. The power phrase we hear today is dying to self. Which is a good phrase, but I can’t seem to find where Jesus or Paul say those exact words, but the Bible does tell us that we have to crucify our old selves so that Christ might live through us. Regardless of the phraseology this idea can conjure up images of pain and suffering, or at the very least Jesus zombies populating churches around the world. In reality, its a pretty heavy subject. Oswald Chambers says in the passage from Mark 8 we can replace the words “his life” with “himself/herself”. Whoever desires to save herself will lose herself, but whoever loses herself for My sake and the gospels will save herself. Interesting. So I need to lose myself for Jesus. Ok I want to serve Him, but I kinda like myself. I might prefer being a zombie to losing my identity.



In the beginning, after I recommitted to Christ as an adult and I desired to crucify my old self, I thought this meant I had to change my entire personality. I had to suddenly morph from being a loud, outgoing, overly sarcastic, occasionally funny, delightfully inappropriate person into a quiet, piteous, holy, almost nun, and I could drop the nun part when I got married. This seemed like an impossible thing to do, much less it was hard to live in the joy of Jesus if I wasn’t allowed to be funny anymore. Luckily my then boyfriend (the famous Mark and now husband) didn’t even attempt to rid himself of his personality and humor. He was even skilled enough to come up with what I call Biblical humor. It was through him I learned that I could be a new creation in Christ without being a new boring creation.

Now, many times when someone becomes a believer and they come across the concept of dying to self they expect this instantaneous change. Like you say, dear Jesus, I would like my old self to die and be new in You. And Bam! Magic! You’re a new creation. It’s not that easy. Dying to yourself is something you have to do everyday. It gets easier as we go and much of the old crap that was piled into my cool personality has been gone for years, but I still struggle with my flesh and I have to remember to rely on Jesus and not on me. It’s like I go through seasons where I rarely swear and then I watch certain movies or hang out with certain people and I start swearing again. Now I don’t really think it matters if I say crap or shit, I mean the same thing. But I do think it matters how often I’m uttering such exclamations, because it gives me an idea where my heart and mind are. So if every time I drop something (which is often) I have to shout an ugly word, than perhaps I’m being a little lazy on dying.

Sometimes I think it was almost easier to die to myself in the beginning, when the concept was new, I had so much junk to get rid of. It was also probably easier because I bought the book A Call to Die by David Nasser (yes, this is me recommending this book) and I forced myself to get up an hour early every day and spend time with the Lord distancing myself from my old ways. At times, I think we (I mean me) get a little casual with our relationship with Jesus. We read a little Bible, we say our prayers, we go to church and follow our favorite Christian bloggs. But we don’t put that much extra energy into dying. We don’t conform our minds to Christ. Why should we? We are so very clever. Sometimes as we get farther along in our journeys with Christ (I really hate that metaphor) we would rather not do anymore dying, it means we have to look deeper, we have to attack ingrained behavior that isn’t godly, but that is as familiar to us as our favorite jeans. But look at what Paul says.

22Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; 23And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], 24And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 Amplified

Yikes. He tells us to discard the part of us that is characterized by lusts and delusion- delusions that come from ideas of the world. Paul says to be constantly renewed in our minds. That sounds ongoing to me. He says our new nature is supposed to be Godlike. We know we can not be like God, but we should always be striving to be like God. I’ve heard as a couple’s marriage progresses they can become lackadaisical in their efforts toward each other, (I say I’ve heard this cause we are still newly weds and we haven’t experienced this yet) Much in the same way we are espoused to Christ, and can be lackadaisical in our relationship with him. But we need to constantly seek intimacy with our spouses, and with Christ and to rid ourselves of anything that hinders this.

So here I go, I need to identify the things that are keeping me from intimacy with Christ, from being the bride he longs for. It might suck to realize the things within me that aren’t good, but in the end it will bring me closer to the Lord and make me a better representative for Him and probably make me a better wife too.

What do you think? Is this “dying to self” thing continual? Or do we eventually reach some standard of death where we die no more? Does it get easier or harder as we go? Is this something you struggle with, and if so, how do you motivate yourself to die more?

18 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Carla! I have to admit I spend more time on my favorite blogs than I do on my knees. Sad, isn't it? Of course, I know I'm not alone, but a majority of people doing what's wrong doesn't make that wrong become right. We need to continually crucify the flesh and its desires, as Paul said.

    I've wrestled with this whole idea of natures being changed and yet sin still being an issue, and here's what I've come to realize: we do indeed receive a new nature (and lose our sinful nature) at the moment of regeneration/conversion. But the flesh is still active, and after our nature change, it is actively opposed to our [new] heart's desires. Our minds have been so programmed by the flesh, the world, and even the devil, that we still feel like our habitual sins are natural. Feelings can't be trusted, though, because those sins are no longer part of our nature, which is Christ's nature in us. But, again, we must make war against those old mindsets (renew our minds) by God's grace, as the Holy Spirit gently exposes them for what they are--sin.

    Basically, I got tired of hearing Christian's deny the work of the Holy Spirit by saying things like, "Well, I love Jesus, but my sinful nature keeps rising up." I'd like to say, "Then you may admire Jesus, but you aren't His child." Of course, that sort of thing helps no one (except my flesh). I want people to stop living a defeated life and realize that their old nature really is dead. That they really do have the power to say no to sin. That they really can renew their minds by God's grace. It is a long-term process--life-long, in fact--but God also told the Israelites that He wouldn't drive out their enemies from the Promised Land too quickly. Because the wild beasts would be too numerous! Wouldn't it suck to kill all of your enemies and then be overtaken by mountain lions?! In the same way, God doesn't expose all of our sins the moment we come to Him. Rather, in His timing, He points out one or two at a time and gives you the strength and the desire to crucify them.

    Sorry to run away with that one..

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  2. Love lifts us up where we belong. God bless you. See the power of Positive thinking within you. Please follow my blog. Positive Thoughts

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  3. These are 2 of my favorite verses:
    Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (and verse 2 is great as well)
    and Colossians 3:9-10 "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
    I think we have to continually work on "dying to oneself" - why would it get any easier? The things that are easy to get rid of go first...the super stuborn and deeply imbedded thoughts, teachings, and beliefs are what stay for last...that is where the really hard work is.
    We should all follow Paul's example and not just "die" when we feel like it, but "die every day" (1 Cor 15:31).
    Thank you for the great post and reminder!

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  4. Dying to self? Easier said than done. Thanks for the post, and thanks for popping in at brvan.com.

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  5. Wow, really thought provoking post. It reminded me of a passage I was reading earlier today in Romans 7 about man's struggle with the sinful nature. I think dying to one's self is as much a process as being born again through God's word. Uprooting, destroying and tearing down the things of our sinful nature is no easy, or enjoyable task.
    I thank God so much for His promise in Rom 8 v 18 :)

    Great blog guys, thank you!

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  6. Feel free to run away anytime. I'm the queen of extra long comments, I like to know I'm not alone.

    There have been many times I've been frustrated with Christians who claim to believe in the power of Christ, but don't believe in it in their own lives. I've met those who love the passage about the mustard seed but will vehemently stand behind the notion that they "can't" quick smoking, the addiction is to strong. Or who say they trust Christ, but don't trust Him in their finances because they are so scared by the concept of being poor. Or people who just never change their lives but claim Christ as savior. It can be frustrating, and most times, whatever you or I say will not get through to them, chances are they've heard it before. But the Holy Spirit can get through to them and if we pray God can and will put things in their lives that act as billboards asking them to change. More often than not, fervent prayer works better than fervent nagging.

    And I agree, there is a change immediately, but we also need to be obedient every day and it's not easy. We need to seek the power of Christ to change and not just hope it magically happens. Sometimes we try to change in our own power and we fail miserably. And sometimes we are ok with the status quo and don't open ourselves up to God's callings. This dying this takes effort. But no one said it was easy to be a Christian and no one said it was easy to be married. (Can you tell I really like the idea of being espoused to Christ? I love Hosea)

    Thanks for you very thoughtful comment!
    God Bless!

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  7. Thanks for your great comment healingleaf! I love the phrase "spiritual act of worship". I'm not much into emotional, revved, worship on Sunday before the sermon worship these days. I feel I can better worship in the quiet, alone times with Him, but more importantly in the ways I live my life for Him. I want to be a living sacrifice!

    Thanks for the great verses on this Saturday morning!

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  8. Yes it is much easier to write a blog about dying to self than actually tackling the crud in my heart. :) Thanks for the comment Bryan, I look forward to more interesting points on your blog!

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  9. Amen! Well said. Whenever I struggle I remember that this moment is nothing compared to the blessings in my entire life and smaller yet compared to the glory of eternity with Christ! I love the book of Romans, I come back to it time and time again. I think I actually have a couple Bibles where I practically have all of Romans highlighted!
    Thanks for your comment LL!

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  10. Positive thinking can help one's outlook on life, but our thoughts lack any real power if they are not focused on Christ. The power of Christ's love can change lives, heal the sick, and perform miracles. But our own thoughts rarely, if ever, do that.
    Blessings to you! Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. hey thanks for visiting my blog. ur blog is so deep. i wish i can comprehend everything. but il be reading more of ur posts :)

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  12. dying to self is definitely a daily thing, and something you need to remind yourself to do. You have to make the conscious effort to do it. And even when you get some experience under your belt you may die to yourself to serve other people out of habit, and even then your heart is detached from it. I think we will constantly fight this temptation to disconnect our heart from these actions.

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  13. Dying to self is a daily thing....present yourselves a living sacrfice. It is something that must be done until we finally see Him face to face.

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  14. As long as we are lugging this fleshly house around we must die to it....our carnal natures will forever raise their ugly heads, but I can thank God through Jesus Christ that I can come to him as I am.....and thank Him that He will not leave me that way

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  15. Good point that we can become detached from the process of dying to self. I think a lot of things we are called to do in our relationship with Christ can become so habitual that we only go through the motions with out our hearts being in it. We have to always strive to put conscious effort in our relationship to Jesus. Thanks Charlie! We're praying for you and your family!

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  16. I love this post Mark!

    nicodemusatnite.com

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  17. Thank you for stopping by Jonathan. I cannot take credit for this post, for it was written by my lovely wife. Thank you for your comment!

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  18. Kalyanavaran ComApril 8, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    hi thanks for sharing this


    regards.
    www.kalyanavaranmatrimony.com

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