2 Corinthians 4:10-12. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
What does it mean to be alive? What is life? For Christians, it is Christ. His life in us. The life of Christ in us is the presence of God, the power, the treasure, the glory. But it is the glory of the cross. It is the power of the crucified life. A life where death is at work.
We carry the death of Jesus. Christ’s death is at work in us.
For Christ, living was dying. A complete dying to self. Putting himself under all others. For Christ, dying was life. Life for all of mankind. Today your life is a continuation of the life of Christ and therefore a continuation of the death of Christ. You carry his death around wherever you go. Our lives, as Christians, are meant to display the death of Christ to the world. We are called to live out the reality of the cross. The cruciform life. The life of dying to self. The life of suffering.
And notice what Paul says about this reality – he is always carrying the death of Jesus. It’s never ending. Christ’s death indwells you. There’s no escape from it. There’s no separation from it. The cross is always at work in us. Always torturing our sin. Always executing our self. Always bringing life to others. Each time we die to self, it is life. Each time we give something up to serve, someone else lives. Each time we lose something for the cause of Christ, another gains.
So death is at work in us, but life in you.
When we embrace the work of the death of Christ in our lives, when we choose to give something up in order live sacrificially for others, the pain that it brings reveals the deeper desire of the heart. That’s why it’s called death – because it’s pain caused by a loss of something. Something is gone. Something is lacking. The missionary gives up much to go love another people. The Christian might give up comfort or security in order to love their neighbor. Death leads to life. Paul lacked comfort, stability, safety, and calm. His physical and mental health were dying. But this dying outwardly displayed the life of Christ inwardly.
2 Corinthians 4:16. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
When we allow the embracing of death to reveal our longings, our desires, and our desperation, it will always produce life. How? Because now we must place ourselves into the hands of God, trusting him alone. Dependent on him alone. Living outside of the moment. Living beyond death and looking toward the resurrection. Believing in it. Longing for it. Desiring God more than all else. Desperate for Christ and his resurrection so as to finally be like him.
And this in turn produces life in others. Our willingness to die, to sacrifice, to live for others will bring to them the life giving goodness of God. Maybe in the message of the good news. Maybe in the words spoken that restores their soul. Maybe in a display of love that softens their heart to Christ.
“To live is Christ” is to carry the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ with us in our own lives, our own bodies. We are a living display of Christ’s death so as to display his life. His loving, sacrificial, giving life.
Is it hard for you to embrace that your life is a display of dying? How can your union with Christ allow you to see your life this way? Where have you recently seen your dying to self lead to life for others?