If there is one note ringing through these pages, it is this: to the extent that we are afraid to die to our self-interest, to that extent will our Christian lives be unfruitful. We remind ourselves again: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain; never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest" (John 12:24, Amplified Bible). It is easy to say but difficult to put into practice - difficult but not impossible. Today we ask ourselves: What exactly happens when we "die" to self? Does it mean that the "self" undergoes annihilation? No. The death to which we are called is the death of the false life we have been living, the false ideas and values we have set up, the false world of sin and evil, and the false self, organised around self-concern. When Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ", he meant that he had died to all the purposes in his life except Christ's purposes. This whole passage telling of Paul's burial and resurrection is one of the most exciting in the New Testament. He goes on to say: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." Paul discovered that life was much more positive and powerful when he pursued God's purposes rather than his own purposes. He got on better with Christ than he did with himself. This may take some thinking through, but the truth is, if you won't live with God, you won't be able to live harmoniously with yourself - nor, for that matter, with anyone else.
O God, I just can't go through life with this ghastly contradiction - the self - at the centre of my being. I cannot bear this constant civil war within me. Command it to cease and command me to be free. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
For further study:
1. To what have we been called?
2. How is this achieved?