St. Irenaeus of Lyons said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Isn’t this what every person deisres? To be fully alive? In fact, this is why Jesus came, to give us “life and life more abundantly”, John 10:10. Yet there are so many who never achieve that full and abundant life. There are scores of people who day after miserable day wonder where this life Christ talked about resides.
What has happened, Christian? Dare I say that many of us came to Christ with the wrong idea and understanding of what an abundant life would be? This is somewhat explainable since we live in the most prosperous country and period of time in history. It’s easy for all of Christians to begin thinking that life is meant to be easy and that we somehow should have the “life” since we follow Jesus. But this isn’t what Jesus promised at all. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Jesus told his would-be followers that they would be hated and rejected and that people would despise and even kill them. (Matthew 5: 11, 12, 44, Matthew 23:31, Luke 6:28). That doesn’t sound like being fully alive does it? Ah…but it does. It is!
We know very little about living, I mean really being fully alive. We think we know but we really don’t. You see, we think life is all about living but it’s really about dying. It’s about the giving away of yourself. It’s about moving beyond belief and into action. We talk much about being alive and yet we are as dead as doornails on the inside. It’s when we actually find something worth dying for that we really become alive! Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. said: “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” As Christians we have been far too content to let Jesus die for us and not been willing to return the favor. We are so happy to have heaven within our sights and our 64 inch Plasma screen TV too! Life couldn’t be any better, right? (Luke 12:15)
It’s not that I have something against Christians being prosperous. What I am saying is that we cannot and should not expect it, nor should we define our lives by those things that we own. Our lives will ultimately be defined by who owns us. Christianity is about Jesus Christ on a cross dying to make us fully alive. His death was not to purchase me a flat screen TV, ipad 2 or a two-story house. His death was to purchase me real, abundant life. This life can only be found when I follow in Jesus’ likeness and crucify myself with on Him the cross. There is no Christianity without Jesus on a cross and there is no salvation for us if we do not join him there (Luke 14:25-34). But when we do, we are given life, true, real life. Galatians 2:20 in The Message reads:
19-21″What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”
So the first step toward becoming fully alive is taking a step closer to the cross of Jesus. It’s taking the step toward dying to self and losing oneself in Christ. It’s being willing to forsake anything that would prevent me from becoming fully alive. It’s understanding and believing and living in such a way that goes beyond belief. No longer is it enough to simply say that Jesus died and has given me life. Rather, it’s embracing the life of sacrifice, surrender, abandon and passion to the point where nothing else matters except me crucified and Christ risen in me. Becoming fully alive requires me to fully and completely die to myself.
“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die” Dietrich Bonhoffer.