Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April 8- United with Christ on the Cross

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

4/8- United with Christ in the Cross- Galatians 2:20; Romasn 6:6
20 I have been 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)
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, [a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6)

Calvin: Let us take notice that there is a twofold mortification. The former relates to those things that are around us… The other is inward — that of the understanding and will, and of the whole of our corrupt nature.
(Commentary on Colossians 3:5)

For Calvin part of taking up our cross is mortification (dying to self). Mortification consists of two parts an outward and inward dying. The outward dying has to do with the circumstances around us. This is bearing our cross. The inward dying has to do with how we die to our own selfishness. This is self-denial. The old sinful self has to die so that the new life in Christ can grow. It is the image Jesus gave “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But If it dies it produces many seeds. (John 12:24). There is a part of us that must die in order for Christ to live in and through us, to make our lives fruitful and productive. Lent is certainly a time of repentance, and mortification is a great way to get back to the way things should be.
There is a sense in which the old spiritual, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" is really true. Rembrandt's painting himself at the foot of the cross is a reminder that we were there. We were there in that Christ's death is "once for all" as Hebrews says. Christ's death has infinite value because Christ was not just a good man but the infinite-god-man. His death was a death for all time, and for all people who would recognize it. Even for those who do not recognize it, his death was a message for all the world that God cares enough to not only come down for us but to sacrifice Himself for us. As a powerful volcano's eruption in one part of the world can affect the temperature in another part, so this death affects all of us though it was done in the past and in another place.
We unite ourselves to Christ's crucifixion by our belief (For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in him...)but also by our taking up our own cross and denying ourselves. We imitate him in our own mortification, following in his footsteps, walking down his path. His Spirit is found on the same pilgrim's path uniting us to Him.

Prayer: Lord, let me die to self that I might live for you. Strengthen me this day as I take up my cross.

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