Into the grey: Death. All the time.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal 2:20)
There’s this pervasive theme of death in the church. Looking back, every blog from this Into the Grey series has talked about death at some point. This idea of dying to your self was supported by ideas of:
- Taking up your cross (all of the gospels)
- Dying as “gain” (Phil 1:21)
- Death of the “old man“ (Eph 4:22-24)
- Being buried with Christ to be reborn (Rom 6:4-8)
- The graphic torture and death of Jesus (all of the gospels)
- And so many others
In past blogs and podcasts, I’ve talked a lot about the adverse affects that these talks have had on me personally. But beyond just that, it brought up this culture of asking: Would you die for your faith? Martyrdom was praised and elavated beyond almost anything else. Being willing to die for your faith was seen as the zenith of a person’s faith.
This culture of elevating and fantasizing about martydrom is so toxic and harmful that I plan on spending more blogs about that alone. But the big piece that I want to focus on is the fact that we cared more about death than we did life.
But Jesus didn’t seem to care a lot about death. He cared about what we did and how we lived our lives. He cared about alleviating suffering. And not just helping someone in need, but helping them with lavish and joyous charitable contributions. Beyond just giving financially, Jesus wanted our hearts to so excited about carrying someone’s bag for a mile that we carried it for an extra mile beyond what we were asked to do.
Whenever I look at the teachings of Jesus, I see this idea of dying to ourselves. But I no longer see it as extolling us towards victimization or martyrdom. I see it as being willing to put my fragility aside long enough to stand next to my fellow person and hold up my fist saying, ”Black lives matter.” I don’t see the idea of carrying my cross as a way of reinforcing the lie of redemptive suffering. But instead I see it as being willing to admit my misogyny and acknowledge the role I’ve lead in perpetuating patriarchy while also marching forward against it.
At the height of my evangelical life, I would tithe even my dill, mint and cumin, but I didn’t understand anything about what it meant to be charitable. But Jesus continues to teach how to care about and value life as I never thought I could.