I remember being in 7th grade and memorizing Galatians 2:20 for the first time. I was at a training camp learning how to present the gospel effectively to children. The living conditions were not great, the staff was crabby, and I was miserable. I wanted out! Then I learned the words to this amazing declaration of Paul: “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Since that time long ago, the Holy Spirit has brought those words back to me. Most of my life in Christ has been delightfully easy. Honestly, I haven’t suffered that much as a follower of Jesus. There have been difficulties, but I haven’t been tortured for Christ or thrown in jail for my testimony. I’m guessing for most of you, it’s the same.
So, what does it mean to be crucified with Christ? How can we claim this in our present reality? As I’ve been asking the Lord about this, here are just a few thoughts He has given me. I feel like they’re for you too!
To Be Crucified with Christ Means I Will Lay Down My Reputation. One of the most difficult challenges for me personally is to surrender what others think of me. Jesus was falsely accused, mocked, accused of being demon-possessed, and being a heretic. Yet, He surrendered Himself to the Father’s plan and didn’t grow defensive. Oh man, isn’t that hard. When people misunderstand you, criticize you, or gossip about you, how do you lay it all down? The way we surrender is to realize that God can take even what’s meant for evil and turn it around for good in our lives. He can use any difficult challenge in our lives to refine our character. Refinement certainly isn’t fun. Yet, it polishes us more into the shining image of Christ.
To Be Crucified with Christ Means I Will Aggressively Pursue Calm. What do I mean? So often when life circumstances are difficult, we react in haste. Rather than waiting on discernment from the Spirit, we say or do things we might regret later. When you feel your blood pressure rising – when you feel like life is caving in – pause. Honestly, this is very counterintuitive. Our impulse tells us to act quickly for self-preservation. God’s Spirit, however, calls us to calm. As we shift our focus off the struggle we are facing and fix our attention on silently listening for the small whisper of God, He will give us wisdom. He is the One who speaks, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). When you are being crucified with Christ, resist the urge to act hastily.
To Be Crucified with Christ Means I will Trust Him With My Security. Jesus said that those who follow Him might not have a place to lay their head, let alone financial security (Luke 9:58). Security looks differently to each of us. When we are crucified with Christ, we find our security in Him. He is the all-sufficient Savior and the One who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17). He is the God in whom there is no lack! When difficulty comes and you feel as though you’re being crucified, trust Him for provision.
Friend, Pauls’ declaration is for you as well. Jesus calls us to die to our dreams, our ambitions, and our self-esteem. In place of those, He gives us His dreams, His ambitions for our lives, and His esteem for our souls. He calls us to die, but He also calls us precious and holy (Colossians 3:3,12). You can trust Him.
On June 13, I will be teaming up with Carol McLeod and we’ll be presenting a live webinar called, “What’s Next? Discovering Peace in the Midst of Your New Normal” – Saturday, June 13 at 8 am PT/ 9 am MT/10 am CT/11 am ET. I hope you’ll tune in!
I also have a new devotional book coming out with Moody on July 7 called, “Psalms for the Anxious Heart: A 30 Day Devotional for Uncertain Days”