I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
I am crucified with Christ, but Christ liveth in me
I have already discussed how the nature of our sacrifice is to reform us to be in the image of Christ. This passage from Paul further stresses that Christ is also our exemplar in that sacrifice. Yes, he performed his atonement to cleanse our sins, but he also did it to demonstrate for us what we must do.
There is a beautiful intersection here of Christ’s sacrifice and our own. We sacrifice to become like him, and he sacrifices so that that is even possible. Were it not for his atonement, then it wouldn’t matter what we tried to sacrifice, we wouldn’t be able to experience the necessary change of heart. We might take a leap of faith, but there would be nothing to catch us on the other side.
This signifies that there is an order to sacrifice. Christ’s is the first, the prerequisite that allows us to make our own. Strange as it might sound, the freedom that Christ wins for us is the freedom to sacrifice; the freedom to not have to hold onto the old.
And he that taketh not his cross is not worthy of me
He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it
And now consider Christ’s famous pronouncement that only those who are willing to lose their life shall find it. He is not telling us that if we give up our old life then we’ll get it back again later. That wouldn’t be a sacrifice, after all, that would be a loan. No, what we give up will truly be given up, and the life that he promises we will find is not our old one back again. The life that we find will be an entirely new one: his life. We are to bear our cross, be “crucified with Christ,” and trust that as we do this new life will emerge.