Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Way of Death

If I am to pattern my life after that of Jesus, should that not also extend to how he lived and died in the final week of his life on earth?

Can the crucified Christ be my model for living and for dying? It seems that Paul is saying this in Philippians 2:5-11, a passage I’ve returned to time and time again in this season of Lent:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
  Though he was God,
      he did not think of equality with God
      as something to cling to.
   Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
      he took the humble position of a slave
      and was born as a human being.
     When he appeared in human form,
      he humbled himself in obedience to God
      and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

   Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
      and gave him the name above all other names,
   that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
   and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus’ faith was embodied in self-surrender. My faith cannot be just belief, but must be my pattern for living. My faith will lead to death, death of my own self-interests, death to my own instinct toward self-preservation, death to seeking to have my own way. It is costly—yet Jesus bore that cost out of his love for God and his love for me.

I cannot fully love unless I die to self. Jesus modeled self-emptying, downwardly mobile love. How countercultural to the values of our society!

As I go with Jesus to the cross, I ask myself if I am indeed willing to pattern my life after Christ.

Can I voluntarily give up my rights and my wealth to help others?

Will I choose to become downwardly mobile for the sake of elevating others?

Will I constantly ask myself how my behaviors and choices affect others?

These are questions I will wrestle with long after the joy of Easter Sunday. I cannot dismiss them, for they must be answered. The answers I give determine if I am a merely a believer or am a disciple.

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