“For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What does it mean that Jesus died and rose again? That’s kind of a big question. There have no doubt been whole books written on the matter. I’m aiming for this to take less than five minutes of your time, though, so what can we say right now? Paul gives us one really good thing here. Let’s talk about it.
If Jesus rose again, then everything He said is true. All of it. Everything He said about Himself. Everything He said about us. Everything He said about how to get along in this life. Everything.
If Jesus rose again, then He is Lord. He is the Lord of life. He has an authority over death that no one else shares. That means He can give life even where death would appear to have power. Like the feudal lords of the past, though, if we are going to receive the benefits of His power over death and for life, we have to live within the boundaries of His territory, so to speak; we are going to have to willingly submit ourselves to His authority.
That makes sense, right? If we want to enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ authority over death, we have to willingly place ourselves under that authority. If we try and claim it, but insist on living somewhere else, we are going to wind up disappointed. It would be like if you had a lot of money and someone tried to live with the benefits of that money without your permission or an acknowledgement that it was your money. That wouldn’t work. Or at least it wouldn’t work for long. We call those kinds of people identity thieves and lock them up whenever we can. There are no identity thieves in the kingdom of heaven.
What this means is that if Jesus rose from the dead and if we want to experience the benefits of the life He has because of it, we need to live for Him. We no longer live for ourselves. What we want doesn’t factor into our decision-making processes anymore. Our desires become subordinate to His. Our plans are filtered through the rubric of whether He wants the same thing or not.
And, before that thing in you that wants what you want, when you want it, how you want it, where you want it, for as long as you want it, rises up to protest, let’s establish a very important fact: His desires and plans are better than yours. His decisions are wiser than yours. Everything He does is done with life in mind. Can you say that?
If we want to enjoy the life He offers, we must live as if He is the one driving us. Here’s the good news, though: He is driven by love. Everything He does is not done simply with life in mind, but with love in mind. He is love. Therefore, when we are in Him, it is His love that compels is to think and speak and act in certain ways.
So then, are you compelled by His love? Are you living for Him and not yourself? Those are the signs that His life is in you. They are the evidence that you are something new.
If not, what’s holding you back? Fear? His perfect love casts out fear. Pride? You can be your own person, but the most your own person will ever achieve is death of some kind and eventually an eternally permanent death. That seems an awfully high price for having it your way for a but a tiny slice of forever. When you begin to live for Him, you will find that you begin to want what He wants and so you will always get what you want anyway.
Perhaps it is a sense of unworthiness? Of course you are unworthy. Everyone is. Jesus died for us anyway. That’s the evidence of His love. He died for us while we were still in our sins.
The only thing that makes any sense is to receive the life He offers and find yourself transformed into something new; someone new; someone who is bound for life. Let His love compel you and enjoy the life that is truly life.