The Wrong Way to Die
Most followers of Jesus are familiar with the heavy-sounding requirement to take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24-25). We know of New Testament instructions to die to self. Some of us take a very active approach to those instructions, attempting not only to consider ourselves dead to sin and the world but to actually kill ourselves—as if we could put ourselves on the cross with Jesus. And when self flares up again, we realize how badly we failed.
We have to realize that in order to put ourselves—our sin, misguided passions, wrong impulses, whatever—to death, something of ourselves has to be alive in order to do it. We can’t be the victim on the cross and the executor at the same time. But neither Jesus nor scripture ask us to do that anyway. They tell us we are already crucified with him—and resurrected, don’t forget—and that we simply need to live like it. We consider ourselves dead to old ways of life and alive to new ones. It’s all in the identity we assume, not some condition we can create.
Look at it this way: If you’re trying to put yourself to the cross, you’re very focused on yourself. And that’s the opposite of your calling. Instead, live without regard for the old self; give it no thought. Don’t try, push, strive, or force. Just live in the new life you’ve been given. Everything old will pass away from neglect. Then following him will feel much more alive than ever before.