I’m Sorry Sin, But You Have the Wrong Person

Return to Sender“The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected.” Ever hear that? It means the people you’re attempting to contact have closed, or moved, or died, or gave you a wrong number, perhaps even on purpose. How rude! The same can happen with the mail, according to Elvis, whose postman brought his letter right back saying, “Return to sender, address unknown. No such person, no such zone.”

The Apostle Paul described the Christian life in a strange way in his letter to the Galatians, which was apparently delivered successfully…

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

– Galatians 2:20 (NLT)

This verse is complex. It’s filled with meaning too deep to explore in a short devotional. But there is one very simple, practical truth contained in it that we really need to grasp. The old me – the one that was pinned to the mat by the law and knocked out for the count by sin – is dead. 

The old me had his chance, and he blew it, so he was nailed to the cross and buried with Jesus. Now, Jesus lives in and through me. That is, I’m now living a life supplied by Jesus and guided by faith in Jesus.

So when sin lures us, when temptation comes knocking, when defeat threatens us, when evil crouches at our door… we can declare, “I’m sorry, but you’re trying to reach a person that isn’t here anymore, and there is no forwarding address. But if you’d like to talk to Jesus, He lives here now.”

photo credit: when i was a bird

Would You Willingly Be Executed?

Cross“It’s just my cross to bear.” I’ve heard people say that phrase about the dumbest things. We tend to say it about things that annoy us, inconvenience us, or maybe cost us time or money. It reveals that we really haven’t a clue what it means to take up our cross.

Jesus was about to die a horrific death on a cross. He and all of the apostles knew what that meant. They had grown up under Roman rule, which was fairly free unless someone tried to rebel. Once, an example was made out of 2,000 rebels who were crucified along the roadside for all to see near the town of Nazareth. Jesus and his posse knew all too well what crucifixion meant.

For them, the cross wasn’t a “church” thing or a mere religious symbol. It was an instrument of execution. They would most likely be a little shocked that we would wear the cross on a necklace, much as we might be shocked if someone wore an ornamental electric chair around their neck. In other words, we may not realize the weight of Jesus’ words when He said,

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

– Matthew 16:24

To the disciples who were hearing His words, this came as a call to be willing to be crucified alongside Jesus if necessary. He didn’t intend taking up our crosses as the means to salvation or else all of these guys who “forsook Him and fled” and couldn’t be found when Jesus died would have been hopelessly lost. Rather, Jesus set the bar for what it means to really follow Him and call ourselves His disciples.

To paraphrase, Jesus was essentially saying, “You really want to call yourselves my disciples? Really? Then be willing to be executed. Be willing to lay it all down and give up everything – your freedom, your ambitions, your dreams and goals, your preferences, and your comfort for my sake.”

So. Do you really want to call yourself a Christ-follower, understanding the weight of those words?

photo credit: * Cati Kaoe *