There can be no new life without death to self; no new wineskin without the destruction of the old; no new flask unless the old is shattered and no Body of Christ unless the body of death is dead and buried.
The new testament is not a merging of the old with the new. It’s an abrupt transition called the cross – the cross roads between life and death and the cross roads of history.
Abrupt as the transition was, it was planned before creation and put in place before the fall.
Before we are born again from religion into sonship we might absorb ourselves in the attempt to bring to life that which is innately dead and which Jesus means us to leave buried – at His cross. This can mean bringing our sense of self to the cross, our inherited beliefs and the religious culture in which we have sought to build an identity.
Sure, we may intercede and jump up and down on the carcass of our old covenant horse. We might even attempt to resurrect the brittle pile and leather and rotting bones with a baptism of Holy Spirit. But God is not going to revive what He out to death in Jesus.
He is not about to extend beyond the time an Adamic life along with its fruits from the tree of death. Jesus is not here to anoint Moses and his words on stone with divine power. He has done better than that. Jesus by the Spirit has become your life.
You are not a compilation of values, behaviours and moral niceties. Not if Christ is your life. You are the expression of Jesus and a son/daughter of God. You are a son, liberated from the law of sin and death to be the manifestation of Jesus in the spirit of life. You are the expression of the indwelling trinity wherever you happen to be. With Christ as your life you are alive, you are a human being and a life-giving spirit. Why? Because Christ has come in your flesh and you are a manifestation of Him.
‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’ MATT 16.25 NIV. This scripture can be used to pressure people into ministry – ministry that the Lord does not mean them to do and which they have no interest. Its meaning for the religionist is to give up religion and live instead in Christ as their life. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘you must be born again’.
REWARD GREATER THAN THE COST
So there is a cost. The price is our willingness to lay down all that is us – our assumptions, and the inherited beliefs into which we have been socialised. This is to lay them at the cross in exchange for Jesus’ beliefs and His life. Jesus calls us to lay down our ego, our false sense of identity and our need to utilise Him to invigorate our religion as a means of establishing the self. We need to bring all this and ourselves to the cross so that we can be dead to our life and be born again into His life. New birth for the acculturated Christian is essentially the exchange of our religion for the life of Christ manifest as us.
We are in a good place when we perceive that much of what we were and had believed in the first half of life was not the Kingdom of God. ‘Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again’ John 3. 3 NIV.
CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN
In doing this we join the church of the first-born from the dead. It’s difficult to be this person and this church if we have not been reborn. We must recognise that we cannot continue in business as usual if we are to belong to the Kingdom of spirit and life. At the cross we have the potential to die as boys and be reborn as sons and daughters of God. Richard Rohr observes,
“These initiation rites are always about leading the boy out of the world of business as usual (the cultural trance we sleepwalk in) and leading him into liminal space. It’s a voluntary displacement for the sake of transformation of consciousness, perspective, and heart. People didn’t assume that just by getting up every day they would learn what they needed to know. They had to be displaced and shocked to teach them that this isn’t the only world. There is another world, much bigger and more inclusive, that both relativizes and re-enchants this world that we take as normative.” (1)
‘Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life’ Luke 18.29,39.
(1) Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (pp. 47-48). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.