In 1516, while still an Augustinian friar, Martin Luther wrote the following words to a fellow friar, George Spenlein: ‘…in our age the temptation to presumption besets many…They try to do good of themselves in order that they might stand before God clothed in their own virtues and merits. But this is impossible…’
Central to Luther’s narrative approach to the Christian life was the reality of dying with Christ. This understanding informed the life choices a Christian made and ensured Christ wasn’t pushed to the periphery of personal Christian experience. So, what is dying with Christ all about?
Dying is literally surrendering every last vestige of control to God. It seems unnatural and irresponsible since I was educated to take responsibility, to problem-solve and to make good things happen. My working life had required me to turn bad situations around. I had seen myself perhaps as rescuing people from sin and themselves. I was centre stage, God pushed to the edges. I depended upon my knowledge and my experience. I honed my skills to become better at what I already did.
Where we need to die and how we die are specific to each one of us. There isn’t a generic process to which each of us might subscribe. God carves a path along which we are invited to walk out our personal life in the hope and expectation we shall come to an end of ourselves and quite literally embrace the purpose of the cross, death to self.
Hence comparison with the life of another offers nothing more than perhaps increased pain and bitterness. Where once I maintained a faith as a series of rules I must obey, I discovered that Christ was a way of living, gifted to me the more I died and stepped aside from directing my own life’s direction.
My path, unique to me, is to enable me to bring Christ centre stage in my daily walk of faith. Not something that comes by instinct, only be deliberate choice and often at considerable cost.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings