In a previous post, I wrote that our own participation in the “word of the cross” is saving. Put another way, when the death and resurrection of Jesus becomes autobiographical for us, we find ourselves being saved.
But what does this mean, participating in the word of the cross? I think its meaning grows as we live in this story more and more. We learn what it means to be an employer, a parent, a spouse, a friend, even an enemy, in deeper and deeper ways the more we take this story as our own. But I think at a basic level, it means living a life of trust.
We tend to define our lives in self-serving ways. The thing about this is that it takes an extraordinary effort to preserve our own life–the life that we would build or construct. With this as our default way of navigating the world, we live our life with increasing measures of control–control of our environment, control of others, control of processes and routines. And this makes us crazy over time. Neurotic. Obsessive. Performance oriented. The bible has a word for this. Sin.
Salvation from sin, seen this way, would require faith. The ability to relinquish control in favor of trust. Death for the sake of resurrection. The deepest expression of this that we see is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He emptied himself of prerogative, of the ability to take his own life back, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Though he was lord, the one who could control and rule, he became a servant, the one who had to trust. All of this because he trusted God to raise him from the dead.
So, one way that the death and resurrection of Jesus becomes my autobiography is found in my ability to lean into greater measures of trust. If I ultimately trust God for my life, then I learn to receive it as a gift, not as something I build or construct. If I ultimately trust God for my life, then I am free to live my life for others rather than my own selfish interests. If I ultimately trust God for my life, then I can be interruptible, hold my plans lightly and keep myself open to what else might appear. If I ultimately trust God for my life, that God’s ability to raise me from the dead is greater than my ability to preserve my own life, then I can love my enemies and live non-violently in the world.
When I read sections of Paul’s letters like Romans 12, I see more than just a list of good things to do. In his invitation to be a living sacrifice, I see ways of living in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in living with greater measures of trust. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. Let love be genuine. Outdo one another in showing honor. Contribute to the needy. Extend hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. These are descriptions of ways that death and resurrection people live. Lives of trust.
In one of our being saved texts (2 Cor 2), Paul is being accused of saying one thing and doing another. But Paul reminds them of what story he is living. He is a dead man walking. He is being led as a prisoner in Christ’s victory procession. He no longer makes plans the way he used to. He is open to the interruption of God in his life. As a living sacrifice, he is the aroma of Christ. And while for people who value control, that smells weak and full of death, for those who believe in resurrection it is the sweet fragrance of a life of trust.
“…when the death and resurrection of Jesus becomes autobiographical for us, we find ourselves being saved.”
Interesting post, Mark. There’s a lifetime of stuff to digest in there. I landed on Luke 10 a few minutes ago and noticed that Jesus “told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.'” So it seems that Jesus gives us a little push into that death. After all, isn’t death what wolves are expected to deliver to lambs?