“I have been crucified with Christ, and
it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal.2:20 (WEB)
The trajectory of our life takes us from smaller to larger. Born at 5 to 7 pounds, we mark healthy growth by getting bigger. We get bigger in other ways too. More stuff in our garage, more certificates on our walls, more names in our address book, more data to manage and more responsibilities to carry. Life’s graph is an upward slope, tracking our increase. So, it jolts us when God tells us to flip that chart upside down. The trajectory of our soul on faith’s journey is from larger to smaller.
We are to “deny ourselves”. We find our lives by “losing our lives”. Jesus “must increase” while we “decrease.” And with a clarity that I find uncomfortable, Paul says that this life of faith is a life of crucifixion. He states in Galatians that even when we get on with our living, we all are crucified with Jesus. As we are fleshing out our days, Jesus lives in us and through us. Like an arm up a muppet, His life is to be so dominant that it could be said our lives are not really about us – but Him.
So you can see why I feel a bit uncomfortable. I prefer my life to be about me. I can deal with the notion that Jesus wants to make a better me. I certainly can use the improvement. But if I hear the verse rightly – Jesus wants me to get out of the picture completely. There is no me – there is only Christ! “And I live no longer but Christ lives in me.” It’s true that my face remains on my driver’s license – but the shaping of my soul requires a new re-ordering of my identity. I am no longer the independent spirit who measures the quality of his life by its increase. I am to get out of the way and let Jesus live His life through me – as if my life really did belong to Him.
I have not arrived at a place of invisibility yet. I continue to pop up and expect the world to recognize, appreciate and even applaud me. I am more than willing to share some of that with Jesus….but He doesn’t seem to be impressed with my generosity. He expects it all – and with haste I confess, He deserves it all! But even that doesn’t make it easy for me. So what does it take for me to get smaller – even invisible? In the quoted verse, Paul said he lived a life cloaked with Jesus – by faith. It takes faith to become smaller. And faith addresses fear.
We’re afraid that if Jesus gets bigger, we will be lost. So, we cling to our identity by pushing it up front. Paul’s fears were resolved by “the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul knew that Jesus loved him. When my fears shout at me – Jesus whispers His love. When Jesus asks for our lives – it is out of love. As we get smaller and people glance our way – they see Jesus, the epitome of love. And that is not small at all.