Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dying to self

Recently, I made a facebook post asking, "How do you view the nature of faith in Christ in the midst of suffering and in the context of community?" One response I received was a simple, "Dying to yourself to give to others." I wondered to myself just how many people actually know what that really means...what dying to yourself actually looks like.

So, in answer to that response, I want to suggest a theology for the question I proposed. 

1.  Our faith in Christ does not remove suffering from our lives, nor are we to deny our suffering and pains.
2. The nature of our relationship with Christ is always in the context of community. 

Sometimes we don't get to fly over the valley of suffering without being touched by its particular pain, but through Divine help, we walk the dark path. It is in the midst of this valley where Christ prepares a table before us, in the presence of our enemy. It is the Lord's table--His body and blood--the grace that we run to for help in time of need. 

But, the Lord's table should not be a solitary table, set for only one. This is and always has been meant to be the body of Christ serving the bread and the cup to each other. When we understand that we must minister the love of our Savior to each other and allow others to minister that love to us, we will truly understand the nature of our unity in Christ. Then, we may come out the other side of that valley, knowing the way...that we might lead others to the One Who bore our sorrow and is acquainted with our grief. 

We are healed by love, because of love, and for love. We are healed by the love of Christ through the body, because of Christ's love for the body, and for the love of Christ to be shared among the body.  We are healed because of His love for us, not just His love for me. He loves us each, together. There is to be no fullness of love apart from love together with the body of Christ. This fullness of love in unity with the body of Christ is the nature of our relationship with Christ in the midst of suffering and in the context of community. 

The church in America has become so self-driven that even those who are not self-advocating are self-hating. The latter is just as self-centered as the former. That is not what dying to self means. This is the true meaning of dying to self: dying to self is not self-hate or self-neglect. Dying to self is realizing that as we are caught up in the love-knot of the triune God, there is the unity of the collective body of Christ--there is not ME, there is WE. 

Balance is not found in self-centeredness to the exclusion of others, and it is not found in other-centeredness to the neglect of self. It is giving the gift of self to others--and not some battered, broken, abused, and neglected self. It is the giving of a whole, redeemed, healed, and nurtured self for the sake of others. When we understand this, our person is not destroyed or thrown away, but rather redeemed and placed in a new context--the context of others.

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