image courtesy of Star Wars – Episode II, Attack of the Clones
Episode 2 of Star Wars shows the Anakin and Amidala relationship develop. Many times in their interactions you see Anakin struggling to say, “Sorry, my lady.” While this was painful for many to watch, it does show something very important. Swallowing pride and saying your sorry is not easy.
The idea of this series came to me this weekend as my wife and I noticed a strain in our relationship. As we discussed what we were seeing, one thing I noticed was I wanted to keep the discussion in theory. I was not hearing my wife’s feelings and not willing to say I was sorry. Part 1 of this series spoke to the fear of death from outside circumstances; part 2 will discuss the fear of dying to yourself.
Christians are Afraid to Die to Themselves
Christians give plenty of talk to “dying to yourself.” We have been told we should do it, and we joke about how hard it is. But, I think many of us do not understand why it is hard or why it is important.
First of all, “dying to yourself” that we as Christians talk about is really the process of transforming our minds. Galatians 2:20 says I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 1 Corinthians 5:17 says therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (Thank you Navigators for your Bible memorization plan.)
Patterns Not Inline With Our New Creation
If we are a new creation, then there is nothing bad in us we need to die to. What we do have is patterns of living that are not in congruence with our new nature. These patterns have been formed by years of life experiences that we have mis-interpreted or mis-applied. But, those life experiences feel so real that changing our thinking regarding them feels like little deaths. This why much of our spiritual warfare takes place in our minds and why we need to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5).
The promise of God is that these little deaths generate true life in us. It frees our minds to agree with God and allows His truths to come forth in our behaviors.
I Wasn’t Willing to Say I’m Sorry
This weekend I was not willing to say I was sorry to my wife. Somewhere in my subconscious I was feeling that if I did then I was denying my right to be heard or my desires to be fulfilled. In short, I believed that both God and my wife did not care about my desires.
This is a lie. Both God and my wife care about me and my desires. God has placed desires and passion within me that He wants to fulfill. He is a loving Father who delights in the success of His children. He has also shown me that my wife also cares deeply for me. The lie though was birthed in my fear of abandonment which was formed in me from a young age.
I Was Afraid of Being Abandoned
I can remember as a kid instances where I felt the fear of abandonment enter me.
- Waiting after sport practices well after the other kid’s parents had come. I remembered the lights of cars going past as I stood on the dark field alone wondering if I was ever going to be picked up.
- Being in the car at a rest area on some trip. My dad was trying to get my brother in the car by saying he was going to leave him there if he didn’t hurry up. I remember thinking that if they were willing to leave my brother, then they would definitely be willing to leave me.
- Getting lost at the State Fair year after year for hours at a time and wondering if my parents would realize I was gone or if they even cared.
My young mind interpreted these events as I was the only one who would take care of me. I could not fully trust anybody, even God.
Die to the Lie
The problem is that unless I “die to myself” and reject this lie I was holding onto I will slowly distance myself from my wife and my God. When I do “die to myself” and choose to believe that God and my wife are for me, then I will naturally move closer to them and enjoy the blessings of intimacy with both. And, we are told that intimacy with God is a prerequisite for fruit (John 15:5).
Why is “dying to self” important? For me in this example, by choosing not to say I’m sorry, I created separation that was not intended and distanced myself from the fruit God wants to display in my life.
Why are Christians afraid to die in this way? It goes against how they have lived their lives. Choosing death may promise life, but it also guarantees a change to our understanding of life works that some of us are not willing for God to reinterpret.
For we who are alive are always given over to death for Jesus sake,
so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. – (2 Corinthians 4:11)