Saturday, April 7, 2012

Carry the Death...

Let me share with you a Scripture that has peppered my devotionals in the past couple of weeks.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  So then death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  {2 Corinthians 4:7-12}

I've read this before, probably had to memorize the first portion of it back in the day in a Bible class or two.  I have most likely listened to a multitude of sermons about treasures in jars of clay, my father being one of those ministers.  But, for some reason, when I read this passage a couple of weeks ago, it meant something different, something radical.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus...

I have spent a lot of time as I read the Scriptures focusing on the love, the grace, the Resurrection of Christ.  Those are the positives, the pretties, the parts I was missing all along the way before.  But here lately, I find this other side to things.  The ugly side, if you may.  Perhaps my new approach to the Scripture has to do with the point of life I have reached, a place where there are more divorces than nuptials, more cancer than new lives born, more heartache than I ever dreamed existed in life.  Everywhere I turn, the ugliness of life is there, the bitter truth, the imperfect plight we are destined to live.

Nothing has changed.  In this life, we will have many troubles {John 16:33, Jesus}.  It has been proven time and time again.  And yet, how easy it is to forget what was suffered for us.  The ugliness of the death of Jesus.  The bitterness surrounding it.  The sorrow.  The hopelessness and literal darkness that occurred as He breathed His last breath.  The fear that must have enveloped the Body of Christ, the first Christians, in watching the man they believed to be The Son of God killed before them.

That's the death of Christ.  That's what makes us feel a little uncomfortable.  That's what doesn't make sense in our mortal minds as common sense tries to reconcile the gracious gift given us through the ugliness of death.

See, somehow I like the notion that I have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead living within me {Romans 8:11}.  But to think of carrying that cruel, undeserved death around in my soul feels a little different.  Not quite as lovely and pretty and polished like a modern-day Christian should feel, right?  But if I believe it... if I really believe the whole story of Christ... then I should live each day like He died for me.

I stop for a moment and think how grateful I would be if someone died saving my life today.  Say a stranger leaps in front of that proverbial bus and pushes me out of the way just in the nick of time, sparing me so I can go on living my life and being a mother and wife.  I will be bold enough to say that it would radically change my life... I would be forever grateful for each breath, for each moment with my family from there on out.  So why I am not that conscious of what Jesus' death means to me today?

To live intentionally in the mindfulness that Jesus Christ died for me... that is my challenge as a modern-day Christian.  To live with the lashings on His bare back, the mocking voices, the nails, the crown of thorns, the sword in the side... to live with it fresh on my mind every day.  What a challenge indeed!  What gratitude and sacrifice I owe to Him who bore the pain of all my sin!

I want to carry the death of Jesus around in my body so that the life of Jesus will be revealed in my body.  Let Him shine through all I do.

Sweet Savior... I am humbled by what You did for me.  There are no words of gratitude grand enough to thank You for Your Death.  I want to honor You with my life.  I want Your Death to live inside of my soul so that I may shine the power of You life through all the many cracks in my little jar of clay.  In Your Holy and Precious Name, Amen.

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