Ever had something that you just could not get out of your head? I think most, if not all, of us have had that type of experience at one time or another, even if it was just a song that kept running through your mind, even one that you don’t like! (I hate when that happens, but I digress.)
I have been dwelling on something for the last couple of weeks, something that will just not leave my head. It started slowly, but over the last few days, it has really picked up its intensity.
As a spiritual person, it is my belief that it is often when this occurs that God is trying to share with me or teach me or a bit of both. Through His Spirit, He keeps whatever it is in my mind because for that time, it is what is necessary for me to contemplate and understand in order for me to move ahead in the process He is orchestrating through which He is shaping me into the identity by which He already knows me through His Son, Jesus.
What’s this current thing in my head? Death.
I know, kind of morbid, right? But that’s what it is, though, not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual realm. It is actually a key component of the theology of the Apostle Paul. (Read passages like Romans 8, Galatians 2, Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2)
Paul makes it very clear in these passages that, before being drawn into Christ, I was dead. After being drawn into Christ, what is the life that is now being lived through me? Is it my own? Nope. It is Christ continuing to live His resurrected life in me.
But I am coming to grips with some implications of American theological thought through what God has been sharing with me. There is an underlying current of individualism, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps type of mentality.
The reason I say that is that while the proper theological thought is commonly taught, what comes out in practical reality is that the life lived doesn’t look much different than that before dying to one’s self. I’m not talking about types of change that say a person isn’t suppose to wear that, eat or drink that or do that but had better do this, that and the other thing. What I am talking about is what comes from the heart being changed.
Paul in Colossians 3 and Galatians 5 speaks of the things of the previous life that is suppose to be dead and buried: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, wrath, rage, malice, slander, filthy and useless language, lying, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, and drunkenness.
But how often do I (and others in their own case) go to the cemetery with a shovel and dig up my old self? How many who claim the name of Jesus are better known by the characteristics of the previous paragraph than the fruit of the Spirit? The next time I’m thinking of grabbing my “shovel” from the shed, I need to ask God’s Spirit to go to where my old dead self is buried and move me to an unmarked grave so I cannot find my old self!
I’m dead! And I hear God’s Spirit saying to me, “STAY DEAD!”
When I mentioned American influences on theological thought, what I meant was that it is quite often that it is the person who is the one attempting to live the life in Christ and not Christ Himself. When that happens, the life lived in my strength and power becomes nothing more than a moral philosophy or code. And, I find myself violating that code often, depending upon the circumstances or situation and then justifying it somehow or having the attitude that it’s not really that big of a deal because that’s just the way I am.
Even when a person is brought into the kingdom, s/he doesn’t do that him/herself. Even the faith needed to believe is given to us by God. Remember, that person is dead. What can a dead (spiritually) person do? Nothing because dead people aren’t able to do anything! That person is a natural person who, as Paul says, is unable to understand things of a spiritual nature because those things are considered foolishness by him/her. (I Corinthians 2)
But what is a common aspect of that individualistic undercurrent is that it is my faith that brought me to Christ. It is faith that I generated; it was not given to me. If that is true, then that faith is a work. It is something that I needed to produce in order to be saved. But how can I produce anything if I’m dead!?
How often is the death/being dead part of the salvation message mentioned? Maybe when someone is given the faith to respond to God’s call into the kingdom, we should hold a wake and a funeral and then throw a baby shower celebrating a new life being born into the kingdom through whom Christ continues to live His resurrected life.
I don’t know, but I do believe that if done this way, the symbolism would be quite powerful and dramatic.
Oh, the things that run through my head when God doesn’t allow something to leave my head.