Summary: The path to supernatural power goes through the Cross
Death is inevitable for all life on earth. The Bible speaks of death as both physical and spiritual. The first recorded physical death of a human was Abel, who was murdered by his brother Cain (Gen 4:8). However, death itself, in both the physical and spiritual sense, is first mentioned directly by God (Gen. 2:17). In the Fall of Adam and Eve, both physical and spiritual death comes as a result of sin (Rom 5:12-21). The Bible also reveals that physical death is a transition from one form of existence to another. Humans are more than a physical creature; they are also a spiritual being.
Since all humans have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, everyone is spiritually dead and therefore separated from God, who is the source of spiritual life (Rom 3:23). For this reason, Jesus came to unite every human being with God. The goal of Christianity is for every disciple of Jesus to become more and more like Him. When a person becomes Born-Again, a conscious decision was made to die to self and to the world.
God doesn't look at things like life and death the same way humans do.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa 55:8-9 ESV)
The Christian life is full of paradoxes that seem like contradictions.
- Salvation is free, but it costs everything.
- Giving is getting.
- The last are first.
- Scattering is gaining.
- Holding is losing.
- Having nothing is possessing all things.
- Happiness is found when it is no longer sought.
- The clearest sight is of the invisible.
- Things which are not, bring to nothing things which are.
- Living by dying.
- Give to receive.
- See unseen things.
- Conquer by yielding.
- Find rest under a yoke.
- Reign by serving.
- Made great by becoming small.
- Exalted when humble.
- Become wise by being fools for Christ's sake.
- Made free by becoming bondservants.
- Gain strength when they are weak.
- Triumph through defeat.
- Find victory by glorying in infirmity.
The one paradox I want to focus on today is that a person must die before they can live.
I am continually baffled by how things turn out the opposite of what I hoped and prayed for. I simply don't understand, can't figure it out, and just get plain messed up as things head in directions I would never have chosen for myself. There have been countless humbling events throughout my life that came down on me like a ton of bricks and decked me flat so low that I had to reach up to tie my shoes! There was nowhere to turn but up. As I share this I am struggling with a new challenge that has no cure but God.
Over the 50+ years since I chose to become a disciple of Jesus and receive Him as my Lord and Savior, there have been both dramatic and traumatic events that caused me to go through levels of spiritual catharsis that brought me to a deepening realization and understanding of the inner way of the Cross and the meaning of walking in humility.
I have discovered that humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less. I have learned that it requires complete and reckless surrender and abandonment of my own will, rights, hopes, dreams, ambitions, aspirations, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, intellect, skill, experience, etc, etc, etc.... (see Prov 3)
Frustration, disappointment, and self-doubt have plagued me throughout my Christian walk. The vileness of my will and pride makes me nauseous. I look back over the years at my behavior as a 'Man of God,' and I grieve over the times I lacked compassion, grace, and humility.
I have struggled inwardly with wanting to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, yet my worry, fear, apprehension, anger, concerns, and doubts prove I actually love myself by my lack of trust. I make me sick! I had been worshiping the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I.
In my early years of ministry, I behaved proudly and arrogantly as a self-described erudite leader. I thought that God sent me to use my advanced education to 'help' others. What I did not understand is that Jesus sent me to die; to come to that place of nothingness so that I could be used as a vessel of honor for Him. I fell far short of having the genuine heart of a servant and esteeming others more highly than myself. I did not consistently walk the way of Gethsemane and the Cross. My behavior obscured the reflection of His marvelous light, and in reflection, I am deeply saddened and distressed over it. I MUST decrease if He is to increase.