Drawing from Luke 9:23 and 14:25-27 & 33, Greg talked about dying to the flesh so that we might have true life in Christ. Life in the “flesh” means that we cling to life outside the center (Jesus Christ), which results in our lives enslaving us, something God never intended! Jesus speaks strongly about this because he knows that when we finally let go and “die” to ourselves, we will find life in the center where there is peace and a whole new perspective on the world!
Greg’s message this week was on “Kingdom Centeredness.” The text was from Luke 9:23 and 14:25-27 & 33, which focuses on dying to the flesh so that we might have true life in Christ. The primary image was taking up our crosses and following Christ.
Greg told a story from his childhood that had to do with a certain girl (Amy), a group of older boys and a merry-go-round. Greg and a friend (Dan) were playing on the playground and were challenged by the older boys to see which of them could stay on the merry-go-round longer while it was spun faster and faster. Both Greg and Dan declined until they were taunted by that fateful question: “Are you too chicken?” Further motivation was the presence of Amy, the girl that Greg was trying to impress. The story ends with Greg victoriously at the center of the merry-go-round and Dan having been thrown from the equipment violently enough to break his arm.
Greg took the merry-go-round example in a new direction by asking us to imagine a merry-go-round device that spun faster as you clung more tightly to the rail. In other words, the actual act of clinging would increase the rate of spin, and the result would be disastrous. Life in the “flesh,” as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:19-21, is much like this: the more we cling to life outside the center (Jesus Christ) the more that life takes a hold of us and enslaves us. Greg took care to remind us that the word “flesh” does not refer to our physical bodies, but rather to the old way of life before Christ.
The only way to escape Greg’s imaginary device, or the Bible’s description of the flesh, is to let go – to let go of the merry-go-round and die to this world, the flesh, and all that goes with it. Greg referred us back to Luke 9:23 and 14:26-27 & 33. It is clear from this very strong language that there is to be literally nothing at all that compares with our loyalties and devotion to Christ. Not our jobs or possessions, not even our families, not even life itself!!! Jesus speaks this strongly because he knows that when we do finally die to ourselves, and let go of the flesh, we will find freedom like we have never experienced before! We will find life in the center where there is peace and a whole new perspective on the world.
Greg reminded us that this dying is clearly not a “once for all” event. While it is true that Christ’s death and resurrection was indeed once for all, our abiding (Jn 15:4) in it requires continual attention and renewal. This is why Jesus says “take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23) and Paul said “I die daily” (I Cor 15:31).
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