I have never fully understood why some people insist on making the Christian life so negative. They talk about what we have to give up, what difficult things we have to do, and how much it costs to follow Christ. Maybe that’s how they see things. Maybe they have been told through their own lives that suffering is the price they were to pay for their salvation.
Contrast these two statements:
From Bonhoeffer – “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
From Jesus – “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Bonhoeffer wasn’t wrong, but many of those who teach his words are. We are called to die, to die to the old and worthless values and attitudes that took us ever deeper into grief and despair. We are called to die to the things of this world which bring so little benefit and so much trouble. We are called to die to that which Christ came to deliver us from.
But so many people twist this idea so that we are supposed to die to our selves. We should have no desires, no hopes, no expectation. We are, in their teachings, supposed to die to everything that makes us who we are.
And that’s where we find the LIE. The lie tells us that we are the old man, tied to this world and Adam’s sin. The lie tells us that the patterns of the flesh, built in us to deal with life apart from Jesus, are who we really are. That’s the lie. The truth is that we belong to Jesus now and we have a new life in Him. New heart, new Spirit, new life. We died to the old and we live to the new.
Christ does not call us to die to self, but to find our selves in Him. He is the fulfillment of our self. In Him we find the abundant life, the whole self. He gives us what we were made to have and to be.
We are our selves. Before Jesus, our selves were held in bondage to sin and error. We were lost, broken, wicked, and unfulfilled. But when Jesus gave us life, His life, the bondage to sin was broken and we became what and who we were always meant to be. Our selves found freedom and identity in Jesus.
Let the old man die. Let the flesh die. But don’t die to self. Instead, find your self in Jesus. Be free and full of the joy of knowing who you really are.