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A reading from Galatians 2:15-20: “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
“But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
I want to take a few moments to ponder the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
What do those words mean to you?
What does a life look like that lives out those words?
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.
Let me try to explain via a story:
On any given Sunday in some church somewhere there is probably a woman who once referred to herself as “his wife,” but then came the diagnosis of the sickness that now redefines her life as “his caregiver.”
On her darkest days, she could easily say, “This isn’t what I signed up for.” But you never heard those words come out of her mouth, not that you would blame her if they did.
At first her friends and family members talked about how proud they were of her and how brave she was, but now they say “I couldn’t live like that. I mean, in sickness and in health is one thing, but how long can you just give up your life like that caring for your spouse?”
If someone had the courage they might ask her why she does not leave her sick husband instead of living out her life caring for him. I wonder if she might tell them that she does it because she died to herself a long time ago.
You see once a person realizes that they have been crucified with Jesus, it is no longer they who live, but Jesus who lives in them. And the life they live in the flesh, they live by faith in the Son of God, who loved them and gave himself for them. It is then and only then that they can stop living for themselves and fully live for Jesus.
On the day of our baptism, each of us were buried into death, that we might die to ourselves, in order that we might be raised through faith in Jesus, to live a new life for him (Romans 6:3-4).
That kind of life changing transformation will make difficult things into sacred tasks. It will allow us to embrace the cross of self-sacrifice and to lay our lives down in service to God and service to neighbor. That is what it means to no longer live and have Jesus living in and through us.
Certainly somewhere today, in a congregation is a pair of grandparents who made tremendous plans for their future together. They worked hard to get their own children raised.
They made plans to travel extensively, when the phone call came from their adult daughter.She was getting a divorce and with her work schedule and financial challenges,schedule and financial challenges, she needed them to help with little Johnny.
Grandma’s purse hadn’t carried Cheerios to church for almost thirty years. Grandpa liked hanging with the guys in the narthex of the church until the service started. They both had gotten accustomed to a clean and quiet pew. They liked sitting next to each other singing the hymns together. Now they spend the church service attending to and wrestling with little Johnny while mommy is at work. And though once in a while they still wonder why most of the time they just give thanks to God for another opportunity to pass on the faith. To whisper the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer into the ears of another generation.
They are exhausted most days and would confess that this is not how they pictured life after kids, but they give thanks that though they no longer live the life they planned, Christ lives in and through them.
They know that once they get to heaven there will be time for rest. And really, when they think of those moments and then think of these moments, hectic though they are, they know that it’s all better by far than the stuff they had planned.
My prayer for us today is that we would die to ourselves and spend our days living for Jesus.
May we bring our hearts to Jesus and let him change them, let him make them true to him that we may be more and more like him. Amen.