Much in our culture entices us to live for self primarily. In many forms – advertising, pop psychology, and more – we are exhorted and even wooed to nurture our emotional, physical, and financial desires first as the basis of true well-being. Even some of the “spirituality” in our churches seems imbued with a similar view – that our self-actualization constitutes the aim of God’s love for us. It is as if Jesus lived, died, and was raised to enable the ultimate in self-success and self-satisfaction for us!
To be sure, there is a semblance of truth in this. God does love us. God did send Jesus for us – to live, die, and be raised on our behalf. But here the real truth – God’s truth in Jesus – runs crossways to our human perspective. For Jesus came, not primarily to reconcile us to ourselves, but to reconcile us to God, to restore us to a loving and right relationship with God.
Therefore – Paul writes – Jesus died, not that we would live for ourselves, but for him. Reconciled to God through Jesus, we are to “live” Jesus in the world. Entrusted with the message of reconciliation, we are to be ambassadors for Jesus. We are to manifest him to the world around us. We are to encourage others to be reconciled to God through Jesus.
This is glorious but daunting! How can we do this? The answer is, we cannot do it from our own human perspective, in our own human strength. We are not capable of it; we cannot even understand it rightly. But here God’s crossways truth answers the problem. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are made new. In Jesus we can do it. If a person is in Jesus, he or she is a new creation. The old self and world have gone. The new self and world have come! In Jesus, we can “live” Jesus in the world. We can live no longer for ourselves but for him who died and was raised for us. This is daunting but glorious! And gloriously possible for us in God’s new creation in Jesus!