Crucified, I Live
I have been crucified with Christ … (Galatians 2:19)
Why is identity so important, and sometime so difficult?
Identity is important because it is the way we live: I live according to my understanding of who I am. If I know myself as a zero, a nothing, a mistake that should not have happened, I live one way. If I see myself as A#1, the Center of the Universe, I live accordingly (and require everyone around me to as well!)
While true identity can lead to real life, a false identity will lead to all kinds of death, for me and those around me.
Having a “healthy sense of identity” isn’t always difficult: I make the team, get the girl/guy, receive the promotion, win the contest, hit the lottery, lose that twenty pounds. Who am I? Terrific, great, a winner, an insider and all of that. Until I hit the inevitable--
I get cut from the team because I blew the big play in the critical game. I get dumped, and mocked on my way out the door. Fired unjustly, or worse, for cause; receive the worst kind of news from my oncologist. Who am I? Hard to say.
I have been crucified with Christ. “Crucified” is a club no one wants to join. Crucifixion was the way to erase a person, to reduce his identity to nothing. Crucifixion took each and every one of your identity markers, held it up to public scorn and ridicule, and then slowly put it all to death.
If “I have been crucified with Christ” was all that Paul wrote, it would leave us in despair. Fortunately, it wasn’t.
Think of sin as all our false identity projects, all the ways in which we each strive to “be somebody” apart from God. A false identity, an identity that begins anywhere other than “And God said…” leads to a false life. A false life leads to death. On the cross, Jesus became the full representation and sum total of all our false identity schemes. But that’s not where the story ends.
On the cross, Jesus became what we were so that through the cross we could become what he is.
Here’s how Paul unpacks this:
- I have been crucified with Christ—the death of all my identities
- It is no longer I who live, but—the end of my life in me, BUT the beginning of my life in Christ
- Christ who lives in me—wait, wasn’t Jesus “crucified, dead and buried”? Yet here he is, alive, living in me? Then death didn’t get the final word about his identity … or mine?
- The life I now live—here I am, alive again! But it’s a completely different me, not at all the me I’m used to being!
- I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me—the grace of God takes me from crucified with Christ to loved!
But loved is who Jesus is: throughout eternity, the Son is eternally beloved by the Father. If I am in Christ, I am in that same relationship of love that Jesus has always, and will always, be in.
He became what we are, so that we could become who he is: the beloved of God.
What are some of your go-to “false identity projects”? What possibilities for new identity and new life are opened up as you know yourself as one who has been “crucified with Christ”?