As I woke up early this morning and was deciding yet again what to wear (especially in light of this Spring snow!), my mind was brought back to the challenge of last night, to daily put off my old self and put on my new self in Christ.
Last night John Perrine led us through the Lenten theme of ‘Dying to Self’ – by no means an easy or straight forward invitation! And although it has been challenging, I have found it so helpful to learn about Lenten themes during this season of Lent because it has made the experience so much more dimensional for me than a fear of fasting! John shared two important texts that help unpack the invitation to die to self, so that we may truly live. The first was Luke 9:23 –
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
What I loved about this text, was how John shared that not only was Jesus inviting us to pick up our crosses, the symbol of death, that we might die to self, but he invited us to follow him – which leads to new life!
Even more helpful was the second text found in Ephesians 4:22-24 –
“You were taught to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
In the same way Christ invites us to pick up our cross and follow, Paul encourages us to put off the old self and put on the new!
My favorite part of what John shared, were his three clarifying thoughts on how to die to the old self in order that we might put on the new self and live.
- Don’t kill everything that you enjoy in your life, simply because something might need to die.
- The journey of Dying in order that we might live looks different for each person.
- To identify what God is inviting you to die to, pay attention to your areas of greatest resistance or the things that make you defensive.
That third thought really hit home for me last night – so often the things that God invites me to die to, are the things I don’t want God to notice I’m holding so tightly to, but where my grip is strong – he often draws my attention.
For me, that is how I know the difference between my old self and my new self. John encouraged us not to kill everything in an effort to be holy, because our new self is a beautiful gift from God that needs to live and thrive! I’ve found that I am able to hold my new self lightly and freely before God, it brings me joy and it feels like freedom. Whereas my old self is tightly gripped, it feels like a crutch and it brings me unhealthy dependence that is apart from God.
John closed by sharing that the reason it’s a cross that we need to bear is because dying to ourselves was never going to be easy. Dying to yourself in the area of greatest resistance will literally be for most of us the hardest thing we ever endure. And yet the beautiful news that we’re going to celebrate in a few weeks is that when we follow Jesus to the Cross and die, we find new life on the other side! The tomb is empty! The grave has been defeated! And you and I are invited into a new life far more glorious than anything we could have imagined before.
Blessings and peace to you,