Not I, but Christ

This morning I have been “musing” over the implications of Galatians 2:20 ~ “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God…”

Being crucified, I am dead – dead to sin’s power & allurement – right? I understand that this should be my ‘victorious experience’ as a Christian, but honestly, it is not. At least not consistently. I am sharing this with you because I realize that I am not the first to struggle with this dilemma, nor will I be the last. And so the question: What to do? I know what my “position” is – and I accept & embrace it by faith: I am Crucified in & with Christ – and therefore ‘dead’ to the sins which ensnare and beset me. At the same time, although ‘dead’, I am very much alive – maintaining my own identity, possessing a free will and having a moral responsibility to God and my neighbor – and thus accountable to conduct myself accordingly… all the while buoyed by the promise of life abundant; life to the full; life as God designed & intended for it to be (John 10:10).

Again and without dispute, that is my “position” in Christ, but it is not my consistent experience / spiritual reality.

While pondering this, I was reminded of the well-known and often quoted words of Hudson Taylor (who struggled with the same dilemma). In relation to what he called “The Exchanged Life”, he wrote the following: “It’s not what Hudson Taylor does for God, it’s what God does through Hudson Taylor that matters. All of God’s great men have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them; they counted on His faithfulness. This is the divine solution to discouragement – the truth of the omnipresence and adequacy of Almighty God. In the end, God is not looking for great men… He is looking for ordinary, ‘flawed’ men through whom He can do great things.”

Let’s face it, by that standard, we are all candidates for God to employ.This is something most of us know. Sadly, it doesn’t receive much more than a knowing ‘nod of the head’ or a bit of ‘lip service’ from the majority of us… as we continue to struggle through life’s challenges in our own strength. For me, I have often attempted to “put on” Jesus – in much the same way you might “put on” a suit of clothes. In other words, I have attempted to “dress up” my flesh and make myself presentable to God and to my fellow man. The result? E.P.I.C. F.A.I.L!

This brings me back to my earlier query: “What to do?” To enjoy the abundant life that Jesus spoke of and promised, I need to allow HIM to work from the inside out (not the outside in) and take me, my very self – body, mind & spirit – into union with Himself, to accomplish His work and His will in me, with me and through me.

All good! (says the pragmatist). But how do I get to (and/or remain in) that place? Here are my thoughts on the matter: I must surrender myself to Jesus – absolutely & completely – and recognize Him as the Lord and Master of my life… no matter the cost to me. In addition, by an act of faith, I take hold of the truth declared in Galatians 2:20 and live accordingly ~ “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ…” In other words, it cannot be me making another feeble attempt to live an appropriate or acceptable Christian life in my own strength or by my own resources. Instead, I must die and get out of the way, and allow Christ to live His life by me, in me and through me.

I found the following words by C.G. Trumbull to frame my thoughts perfectly: “The Lord Jesus Christ does not want to be our ‘helper’ – He wants to be our life. He does not want us to work for Him, He wants us to yield to Him and allow Him to do His work through us, using us as a pencil in hand to write with – better still, using us as one of the fingers on His hand.”

Once again, this is a reference to the “exchanged” life that Hudson Taylor discovered. For an explanation to just what that life is, I refer you to V. Raymond Edman who famously wrote the following: “The exchanged life. What is it? Really, it is not some ‘thing’ it is some ‘One’ – it is the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ made real and rewarding by the Holy Spirit. There is no more glorious reality in all the world. It is life with a capitol L. It is new life for old. It is rejoicing for weariness and radiance for dreariness.  It is strength for weakness and steadiness for uncertainty. It is triumph, even through tears. It is tenderness of heart instead of ‘touchiness’. It is lowliness of spirit instead of self-exaltation and loveliness of life because of the altogether Lovely One. Adjectives can be multiplied to explain it: abundant, over-flowing, overcoming, all-pervading, joyous, victorious and so on… with each representing but one aspect of a life that can be experienced, but not fully explained.”

I leave you with the following verses to consider ~

“I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly and to the full.” (Jesus, John 10:10)

“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord  is: be not drunk with wine (under the influence of), in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (controlled by & under the influence of), speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:17-19)

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