Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Grave Robbing

In a sense, it can be kind of funny, if you view it like Young Frankenstein. But in the church, there is an epidemic of grave-robbing going on. Not for treasure mind you, like those who raided the tombs of kings and Pharaohs. Rather, it is people resurrecting corpses for purposes of excusing bad behavior, or their unwillingness to go where God is calling them.

The Apostle Paul says in a couple places that if we are in Christ, our old self is dead.

2 Corinthians 5:17 therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Paul is saying that our old self, its desires, wants as well as the things done to it, are dead. Dead, buried, and meant to be left buried. Not dead and meant to be exhumed frequently. Remember the story of Lazarus who had been dead for 4 days? In John 11 there is this exchange between Jesus and Martha, the sister of Lazarus:

38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39"Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

Dead things stink. Just pass a road kill on your bike once and you will be reminded of that. Putrefaction begins pretty quickly, and the bacteria begin to do their thing.

I say that to remind us that spiritually, there is a horrendous smell when we dig up our old self. If it has been dead and buried for a while, there will be an awful stench. But why do we do that?

Some people dig up their old selves to:
  • Provide excuses to the Lord and others as to why they cannot do a particular ministry
  • Play the victim because it gives them cover
  • Provide an excuse for a lack of forgiveness
  • Give an excuse for their lack of spiritual growth i.e.
Don't you know what happened to me?
I can't do that because I'm a {insert issue}
I was {insert crime}
My parents didn't {insert behavior}
My spouse did {insert behavior}

I think you get the picture here.

If we are a new creation, then our old self is dead, and we need to leave it buried. If we are constantly digging it up, there is some peace with the past the Lord needs to provide you. I know our pasts can be painful, and can leave tremendous physical and emotional scars. But ours is a great God who can heal those scars and provide the peace our souls need. But we have to leave the dead in their graves.

Grave robbing is a crime in nearly every culture on earth. Desecrating the dead will earn the wrath of polite society the world over. It's time we in the church adopt that same rule. Let your old self be buried with Christ, and let the new self be resurrected with Him. That is the symbolism of baptism. We die and rise again. We don't die and hang onto the corpse and keep dragging it around for use when it is convenient for our purposes.

Ask Dr. Frankenstein how that worked out for him.

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