How to Have a Fulfilling Life.
Readings: Rom 6:1-11, Col 2:6-10.
The idea of personal death is common in the New Testament. It is repeatedly affirmed that if we are to have a fulfilling life we must ‘die with Christ’. In Gal. 2:20 Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. This idea of being crucified is a call from God to exchange our plans, motives and desires for His. We find this extremely confronting. We have naturally a God-given desire for individuality. Just as we do not want to be controlled by other people so we have a desire to maintain our own identities even in the face of God. This thinking leads us to hang on to what we see as our identities, though God calls us to give them up. This unfortunate process causes us to value even our weaknesses (Phi 3:19). In the end, by hanging on to what we see as the self, we damage others and ourselves; we fall into destructive patterns of living with and relating to those we love.
It is possible for us to escape this life of destruction and disappointment. The way is through a better understanding of what it is that God is asking us to do. When sin entered into human experience it naturally crippled the potential of every person. Where love once was we find lust, where kindness could have been there is greed, where joy should reign there is anger, fear and hatred. But our potential is far beyond these things. In our Romans reading, sinfulness and ‘newness of life’ are contrasted with each other. It is God’s intention that we live in newness of life. Take a moment to imagine yourself without fear, without feelings of inadequacy and without the aimlessness that often haunts our lives. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Ti. 1:7). Life that is lived in grace is necessarily different from a life lived in sin. We received God through a total dependence on Him for what we could not do ourselves. In our Colossians reading, Paul urges us to live our lives in the same way, and says that by doing so we are brought to fullness; that is, we can in this way find and achieve the potential for which we were created. In surrendering our lives and moments to God we are set free to live in power, love and a sound mind by the grace and guidance that He provides. We must, therefore, identify and reject what we hide from Him and remember Him in each moment. It is only in this way that we find our true life and our true identity, one that is finally worth holding onto.