For generations we human beings have lived off the earth. We have kept alivethrough eating its produce and we have made homes for ourselves from its woodand stone. Nevertheless the earth hasn’t been able to give us a sense ofself-worth, and we have felt vaguely dissatisfied with the extent of thehappiness it gives us. This consciousness of “something missing” wasexplained clearly by the unique historical figure called Jesus about twothousand years ago.
Differing from religious leaders like Buddha or Mohammed who claimed to besimply human prophets, Jesus explained that the Creator of the earth was hispersonal father and that they lived together before the earth was made. He saidthat the real purpose of our life here was to spend our days being and doingwhat his father planned for us personally. If we concentrated on that, ourcreator would ensure that the economy of the world-system would provide enoughfood, clothes, and shelter to keep us alive.
Meanwhile this inner trust in him would make us like him so that we wouldfit right into the new world that he would start after this one ended. We, ofcourse, rejected the whole idea and got down to the business of getting from theworld’s economy what we needed through our own determination and energy. Theresult is that we are an up-tight bunch of little parasites who live off eachother’s attention and prey on each other’s possessions. When this Jesus tells to”have no anxiety about what we shall eat or what we shall drink or what weshall put on”, we find it impossible to stop worrying about these things.Even when we do get some money or possessions together, we then get preoccupiedwith what others think of us because we now miss the approval of the creatorhimself.
This, Jesus then explained, was the reason for his coming to earth: toenable us to be changed in our personalities so that we could live the way hisfather originally intended. He said through his follower, Paul, that when hedied outside Jerusalem we all died. In fact, his death in 29 a.d. was simply themanifestation in time-space of our death in him that took place “before thefoundation of the world”. This was God’s way of enabling you and I to seethe results of our living independent of him and yet have the chance to changeand begin trusting him. The theory of relativity has now demonstrated how thiskind of future event can already have taken place elsewhere in space (or, inthis case, beyond space).
How Do You Change?
But how can this change occur in you- First, you have to want it. This meansyou have to believe in Jesus–believe that his explanation of this life iscorrect–believe that he is the creator’s son and that his death included you.Then, you have to decide whether to continue to depend on the world and yourability to get what you want from it–or to depend on your Father-creator andgive yourself to doing what he wants. When you’ve faced the consequences of thatas truthfully as possible, you need to act. This means ending those attitudesand actions that spring from your selfish use of the world and other people;instead, you start to confer with Jesus and obey the inner impressions youreceive from him. His father (and yours) will then begin to work out yourcircumstances to fulfil his plan for your life. So–your “other life”the new one–will begin!
Dying with Jesus – What does it Mean?
What actually took place when the Creator destroyed you in his Son outsidetime and space- He destroyed your inner tendency to persist in working anglesand watching out for the main chance. That, of course, leaves youdefenceless-unless he defends you. This was symbolized by Jesus hanging on thecross with nothing but a loin-cloth on: if God did not protect his life, hehimself certainly wouldn’t. For many of us, replacing God’s will for that numberone priority of ensuring we don’t go down is a major motivation we have tosettle in our heads.
Another is the simple one of material things. When Jesus died he ownednothing besides the robe he had on. Our cars, clothes, houses, vacations,stereos are not the problem–the feeling of false security we get from thesethings is the real problem. Though it is false, it’s what our heart leans on forits sense of security: where our heart is, there is our treasure also. Thissubtle confidence in money and possessions prevents a sensitive trust in ourFather and gives rise to all the worry and coveting that govern our behavior.Dying with Jesus cuts us off from material things and makes them immaterial tous. Indifference to them is the attitude of the new person we’ve been made inChrist’s resurrection.
Perhaps the biggest implication of the fact that we have been crucified withChrist is that we ourselves no longer exist. Our body exists–and our minds andemotions–but our personal identity as it has been up to now–has died. We havea new personal identity wrapped up completely with Jesus– guided by his ideasand thoughts–identified with his purposes. We–as our mothers knew us–havebeen utterly destroyed and changed into new creations.
As we think about these implications, we need to see that we are notconsidering what we should do–we are simply considering whether we will acceptnow what has already been done–or whether we will continue to live in theunreality that was destroyed in Jesus’ death.