Resisting the Death of Self

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

This verse from Galatians was one of the first I remember memorizing in high school, at a Young Life camp, and it seemed like the most profound directives for my life and identity.  My life is no longer about me serving me, but about my identity hidden in Jesus.  Recently reading Tim Keller’s small book about the gift of self forgetfulness, I realized how inflated my ego is, and how the root of much of my anxiety, sadness and frustration is my enslavement to my self-importance.  It occurred to me that all the many ways my ego is attacked and my over-inflated sense of importance is punctured, might just be the intentional means God is using to “kill” me.

I used to love John Baptist’s identifying words to the Pharisees, who were interrogating him and his ministry.  He kept responding with “I am not” as a way of making it clear that God was God and he was not God.  This was the clear call for the Christian, to make it clear to oneself and others that there is a God, He is GOOD, and I am not that God.  I guess the problem is that I don’t really trust that.

The fierce commitment to my self-importance is based upon a deeper belief that I am more important than others and should be honored above others, respected and appreciated above others, looked up to by others.  Its quite the opposite of dying to self but is instead self-preservation and glorification.  It doesn’t trust God’s call that we die to live.  Therefore, my restlessness, anxiety, constantly trying to figure out the plan for my life, how to be happy, how to find my perfect fit, is actually my refusing to die, resisting the death of self, not trusting the life promised on the other side.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  John 12:24

The end goal isn’t some horror movie or Kool Aid drinking cult, but instead the end goal is flourishing life that surely isn’t found in self-preservation or self-serving, ego driven glory seeking. But my anxiety about trusting God to be God rather than myself is real.

When I had knee surgery back in 9th grade, I was truly mortified about being undressed under that sheet heading into surgery.  As the anesthesia was pumping through my body, I wouldn’t succumb to its sweet sleep until the nurses assured me the sheet would stay over me during the surgery.  I was so worried about my pride that the work needed on my knee was not my priority.  Fighting the sleep was nauseating and uncomfortable, much like my current fight to preseve my sense of self-importance rather than trusting that God’s purposes are far grander than my own.

Joseph sat in prison for years, certainly not feeling all that special or beloved by God.  But he couldn’t have known that his death of self (his own father convinced he was really dead) would save the nation of Israel and many others.  It comes down to trusting God, and I apparently don’t.  I need to succumb to the sleep of self-glory, trusting His glory will be far better than whatever I am trying to grab for myself.