Who here loves to camp? My wife and son like to camp and I have many friends who like to camp, but I have to admit, I’m not a big fan. I’m more of a Marriott camper. I don’t mind getting dirty or wet, per se, as long as I can then get clean and dry. But camping always seems to be an exercise in getting dirty and wet and staying that way for a really long time. In fact, I’m nursing a theory that time slows down when you’re dirty and wet, but that’s a topic for another day.
At any rate, a couple years ago when my son was in Cub Scouts, we went on a camping trip with his Pack in mid-October. Now, because I’m not the #1 camping dad, we weren’t entirely prepared for how cold it got that weekend. The first night we were there, I wore pretty much every article of clothing I had to bed with me and snuggled with John for warmth, but we were still freezing all night long! At the crack of dawn, we got up and rushed to the camp fire, which was my new best friend. We heated coffee and cocoa, and dangling arms and legs over the flames in a fine balancing act between “thawing out” and “burning off.”
And as an aside, this was the moment when I realized I wasn’t cut out to be a Cub Scout dad. Because you know what all the other dads were talking about around the campfire? “If it had been just 2 degrees colder last night, we’d have gotten the Polar Bear badge! Everyone needs to pray it’s just a little colder tonight.” Seriously?!
But I digress.
Anyway, the point is that the most valuable thing in my whole world that morning was that campfire. And I’d have done just about anything to get to its warmth. And I want you to have that mental picture in your head, because we’ll come back to it this morning.
Invitation to turn to the passage
In the meantime, please take out your bibles and turn with me to Galatians 2:20. This is a short but incredibly weighty passage that encapsulates the gospel and describes the Christian life. In fact, if we were to set out to identify the single best verse in Scripture to do so, I think this verse would have to at least be in the running. So much so that you may even have it memorized. But even if you do, please turn with me to Galatians and follow along as I read from the ESV. Then we’ll pray, and dive in.
Read the Passage
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. (Galatians 2:20)
Prayer for Illumination
Lord, we marvel at your love for us, that you would give us your very Word, written down to study and ingest and feast upon, that it might become to us the very words of life. Thank you for this small but powerful verse. As we turn our full attention to your Word, would you quicken us by your Spirit to understand it, to trust it, and to live it out in our daily lives. Make us doers of the Word, not hearers only. Would you speak through me, Lord, that all of us would hear not from me, but from you. We come before you today with great expectation, knowing that the only true life is your life. Reveal that life to each person here, and draw each of us into it, we pray … in your name and for your sake, Jesus. Amen.
In this passage, Paul states that the Christian life is a great exchange: our lives for Christ’s life. It’s about Jesus Himself, by His Spirit, living in us. This exchange is made possible by God’s grace and by Christ’s sacrificial death, but Scripture is also clear that it depends, in part, on two specific and profound human decisions: the choice to repent (to be crucified with Christ) and believe (to live by faith).
In other words, we see in this passage a three-fold progression in the establishment of the Christian life. Specifically…
- Our deaths with Christ (I have been crucified with Christ…)
- Christ’s life in us (It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…)
- Our faith in Christ (And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith…)
So, let’s break those down one at a time…
I. We must die with Christ
I am crucified with Christ. (2:20a)
One of the central and most important truths of the Christian faith is that “Christ died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18; paraphrased).
But if we are thinking of Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross as something that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, or as an event which only affects me in the sense that I get to go to heaven when I die, then we’ve missed what Jesus was doing on the cross.
Jesus became a man to join with us in our humanity. In an incredible mystery that we can’t possibly fully understand, the eternal and omnipotent God left His throne in heaven and entered fully into humanity and the human world. He became entirely man without failing to retain his nature and position as entirely God. And He lived the life that all of us live, except without sin. He truly experienced human life, but instead of being dragged down by a broken and corrupt nature into sin and rebellion, he rose above sin and succeeded where we have all failed – in living a perfect life. And because His life was perfect, He did not deserve the punishment for sin as we do, namely death. So, when Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross, He died a death that He didn’t have to die. And not just as a man, who through a perfect life could save only himself, but as the unique God-man, whose infinite righteousness and position made His sacrifice of infinite value, allowing God the Father to apply His sacrifice to all who believe, in all places, throughout all of history. Because of this great sacrifice, anyone who wants to find life in Jesus can do so.
Now that is amazing news! But it’s not the whole of the gospel. I think that if we stop here, having marveled only at the fact that Jesus died for us, then we run the risk of allowing His death to drift into the background of life, and become something far away or distant, something which provides only a residual, vague reassurance that something good has happened to our destinies. Instead, Christ’s death plays an active, significant role in every day of our lives.
Look at what Paul is actually saying here. He does NOT say, “Christ was crucified for me, therefore I live.” He says, “I have been crucified with Christ, therefore Christ lives in me.” Of course, the Christian life is first and primarily contingent on Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf, but it is also contingent on our deaths alongside of Christ. Paul uses the same word here which the gospel writers use to describe the thieves who were crucified with Jesus, on either side of Him. In our passage, Paul is explicitly saying that before Christ lives in me, I must be crucified with Christ.
Jesus said the exact same thing Himself when He said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” There’s only one reason a person “takes up a cross” … when they’re in the midst of a Roman death sentence.
But how does this happen?
A. Death is the only way out of fallen sinful life
There is an important theological reality we need to understand here, namely that the only way out from under the effect of sin and curse of the law is to die. We don’t have time to turn to it, but Paul covers this in significant detail in Romans 6, and I would encourage you to check it out in your own time this week.
Because humankind has rebelled against God, we have become slaves to sin. And the wages of sin is death. So we are all trapped. We cannot experience the life for which God designed us apart from Christ. We can’t get better because we try harder. We can’t experience new life through self-help plans or really great new year’s resolutions. We can’t make our self-help plans better by adding a little of Jesus’ help to the mix. There is no overcoming sin while remaining in a life corrupted by sin. Our sin and guilt will haunt us as long as we live. But that’s the point… only as long as we live. The only way out is death.
Think of this life as a room with two exit doors. One door was created by Christ, by His death and resurrection. He is the first to have exited this life through that door, and He bids us to follow Him. He waits for us in the next room — not just someday when our physical lives are over, but right now. Eternal life does not sequentially follow physical life; rather, we enter eternal life through the spiritual transaction of dying with and being raised with Christ.
The second door was created by me and my sin. Originally God created us to live forever in the garden, but we destroyed that option with our rebellion. And in so doing created a door through which all of us must exit by default. But if we exit through this door, we will live forever alone, apart from God and cut off from everything we were made to be. So, there are two doors, and we choose which one is our exit from this life. But one more thing about this room…
Who here has seen the original Episode 4: A New Hope? Remember when Luke and Han save Princess Leia but have to dive down the garbage shoot to escape the storm troopers? They end up in a room-sized trash compactor, which inconveniently turns on as soon as they land in it. The walls are pushing in and there’s nothing they can do to stop them. Well, because of sin, that’s exactly what’s happening in our “room of life.” Nobody stays in the room, because the far wall is slowly, ominously, inexorably pushing you toward a wall with two exits. There is no choice to stay here; the choice is, which exit will you take?
Or think back to the campfire at the cub scout retreat. Consider that real life is warmth, which has only one source: the fire. If my son John and I had stayed in the tent that morning, there would have been no way to get warm. None. Can’t heat the coffee or thaw out frozen fingers and toes. Even if you brought back a torch or hot rock or steaming bowl of soup, it would be cold again in minutes. If you want to become warm and stay that way … if you want the fire to “live in you” … then you have to get up, leave the tent behind, go the fire, and stay there!
B. Christian life must be exchanged for, not added to, earthly life.
Many in our culture assume that the Christian life is something we can add to the lives we were living before we met Christ. If we subscribe to this theory, we might sing new songs, spend Sunday morning differently, or give up some unacceptable sins. But this isn’t being crucified. It’s more of what I call the “thin candy shell” approach to the Christian life because it boils down to trying to add a thin candy shell of Jesus to what is essentially the same old life. And it is by far the most common approach to Christianity in our culture today.
Those who approach Christ this way tend to assume there is only one exit door in the room of life, and that we will all exit through it … someday. Therefore, they focus on tidying up and living a good life while inside the room, making sure in their own minds that they are spiritually “covered” for when they eventually are forced to exit.
But that isn’t the Christian life. In this model, no matter what you add to your life or how thoroughly you clean, you’re still inside the room, and sin still reigns inexorably. Even if you do manage to overcome some sin … Even if you say a prayer or go to church every week or serve the poor or are really nice to people … Even if God works some miracles in your life … Unless you take Jesus up on His offer to come and die – to abandon the room altogether, with Jesus – we cannot access what Scripture calls “eternal life.”
This is because God, on the other hand, very clearly subscribes to the “come and die” model of Christianity.
To be free of sin … to walk upright and blameless before God … to share fellowship with Him … you must exit the room. Death isn’t something Christians do someday; it’s what we do to become Christians. It’s the unique, distinctive mark of the Christian that we die in order to find life.
C. How do I die to myself?
But that still doesn’t get at the practicality of how this happens, does it? Give me details, right?! What exactly does this mean I’m supposed to do?
Well, first, let’s talk about what it doesn’t mean. To be crucified with Christ does NOT mean “to work harder at being good.” What it does mean is to surrender, to repent, to turn around. To die is to come to the end of yourself and turn away from all that you are or could be on your own, and give that all to Jesus … to abandon any hope that heat can be found in the tent or in the woods, and live out the reality that the only way to be warm is to stay by the fire.
And this isn’t a one-moment-in-time thing, it’s an every-moment-all-the-time thing. When I feel like this is working best for me is when I’m throughout the day bringing elements of my life to Jesus open in the palm of my hand, and asking what He wants to do with them.
Here’s a very recent example from my life: Though this past Monday was a company holiday, I received an email from a person at work that really rubbed me the wrong way. In that moment and in many moments afterwards as I grappled with the implications of the email and my reaction to it, I was repeatedly faced with a choice: respond the way I want to respond, or give it to Jesus and ask Him for a response.
Maybe for you it’s a question of how you interact with your family or whether or not you take that promotion or what kind of time you’re going to invest in a hobby this year. Maybe God’s been calling you to do something for a while, and you’re afraid or otherwise resisting. Maybe it’s about a sin nobody but God knows about, but the truth is that you really love that sin, and you don’t want to give it up. Maybe it’s not a sin, but it’s something you know God is asking you to let go. Or maybe it’s a life change you’re in the process of making, and it’s really good … but you’ve never discussed it with Jesus. There’s simply no way to say that we’ve died to ourselves, when Jesus isn’t present in the 2017 planning meeting for your life. Maybe it’s something you’re just assuming is a non-negotiable in your life – like where you work, where you live, whether or not your family has cable TV or your kids have smart phones. Maybe your flirting with an inappropriate relationship. Maybe is the jokes you laugh at or the movies you watch or the music you listen to. It could be anything.
Dying to ourselves means that we don’t make the decisions about mortgages and music, acquaintances and acquisitions any more. Jesus makes them.
In all these things, I believe the question God has for us is this:
- Will you exert yourself (which equates to making yourself a little bit more at home in the freezing cold room of life)?
- Or will you consider what you want to be nothing, take it to Jesus, and consider what He wants to be everything (which equates to dying to self, exiting the room, and warming yourself by the fire)?
Okay, let’s continue on through the verse. We have quite a bit of ground left to cover.
II. Christ must live in us
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (2:20b)
Again, pay careful attention to Paul’s words. He does NOT say, “I have been crucified with Christ, but now I live.” He says, “I have been crucified with Christ; I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
Paul is saying – unbelievably – that as I stand here and talk to you, Jesus actually lives in me and through me to present this message to you. It’s not about our making Jesus look good, but about Jesus living in and through us as we go to work tomorrow or watch the game or go to the store or be a mom or a friend or a sibling. We are His agents, His ambassadors. We’re living brushes with which He paints or living stones with which He builds His house, as Peter puts it.
To help us understand this, Jesus used the analogy of the vine and the branches in John 15. I absolutely love His word picture. It’s so rich and deep. So, let’s take a second to explore it, because it depicts so well what Paul is getting at in Galatians.
Picture yourself as a branch. God planted you in good soil, but because of your choices, you have poisoned that soil. Now, the soil is bad, and anything planted in it is dying. That’s you, and every other branch like you, attached to a corrupted vine growing from corrupted soil, destined for death. You’re already starting to look brown and withered. It’s only a matter of time.
Jesus, the Great Gardener, desires to save you. But, in order to do so, He must establish a new vine in good soil and transfer you to it. So, in a miracle that defies the imagination, Jesus Himself, God of very God, becomes a vine and plants Himself in good soil. Because of the overpowering magnitude of His perfect life, this new vine is not and cannot be poisoned – the only vine that can nourish and sustain life. And that leaves you, Mr. or Mrs. Branch, with only two choices: stay on your vine, wither, die, fall to the ground, and be gathered for the fire. Or ask the Gardener to cut you off the dying vine right now – that’s death; you’ve exited through Jesus’ door–, and graft you onto the new life-giving vine. And incredibly, that’s what He does! You can now experience life! Your leaves firm up and straighten and turn green again. Your skin no longer looks withered. You become a vibrant, living branch, because the vine lives in you. You even start to bear fruit!
Imagine the branch says to the Gardener that it wants remain connected to the old vine but receive all the benefits (life!) of the new vine. Or imagine it says that it wants to be transplanted, but carry with it the “life” of the old vine. It doesn’t want to miss out on any of the old withered grapes, after all! Or what if it stays where it is (on the old vine) but tries really, really hard to have green leaves and bear fruit? All three are epic failures! None of these options are possible or even make sense. Vines and branches just don’t work that way. The branch must be fully detached from the old vine and reattached to the new one where the life of the new vine can flow through it.
And notice that once the branch is attached to the new vine, it’s still not about trying really hard or coaxing life out of the vine. The vine pulses with life and energy and vitality. The branch experiences it and is renewed by virtue of remaining attached. So, from start to end, it is the Gardener who brings life –1) in the sacrificial incarnation of His life as the new vine, 2) in His expert skill in performing branch transplants, and 3) in the life itself which now sustains the branch from within the new vine.
So, does that mean that we have no responsibilities here whatsoever? Hardly! Let’s look at the rest of the passage…
III. We must live by faith
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. (2:20c)
The first thing I notice here is that the life we live is “in the flesh.” By this, I think Paul simply means our mortal, physical bodies. He is saying that even though we have died to ourselves, which is a spiritual transaction, our mortal bodies are still physically alive here on earth. So, we are not to anticipate a transformation at some time off in the distant future when we physically die or some kind of out-of-body, mystical experience. Instead, we remain earthly creatures, even though we have died and Christ now lives in us.
And now we come to our responsibility in this transaction: we live by faith. We could easily spend a lot more time than we have remaining to study biblical faith. But I suggest that our research would lead us to understand that biblical faith has three dimensions. Faith is a three-legged stool, consisting of equal and irreducible and interdependent parts…
A. Biblical faith involves knowing with our heads
First, biblical faith involves knowing. To believe, or to have faith, means that we must engage our minds. At least part of faith is in our heads. We must know what is true and what is false, and be able to discern the difference. This is why the study of Scripture and theology is so critical to the Christian life. Not everyone needs a degree in Systematic Theology, of course. But you cannot truly believe something you know little or nothing about any more than you can love someone you’ve never met. Faith isn’t having a vague sense that the Bible says something about something, it’s about knowing the truth well enough to perceive it even amongst subtle and compelling lies.
In our day, the word “theology” has a bad rap. It’s thought to be boring or irrelevant or reserved for scholars off in some ivory tower somewhere. But theology is simply thinking rightly about God, and I agree with A.W. Tozer when he said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
When we think about God, we must be sure that we’re thinking what’s true, not some vague nicety that comes from pop culture rather than Scripture. Even in this passage, Paul explicitly states that our faith has a specific object. We don’t just believe whatever makes us feel good; we live by a specific faith … “in the Son of God” … about whom specific things are true … “who loved us and gave Himself for us.” At the very least, biblical faith concerns itself with learning about and getting to know the real, biblical Jesus.
B. Biblical faith involves trusting with our hearts
Second, biblical faith involves trusting. There is no belief without engaging our hearts. When we truly believe something, we don’t just know it’s true in our heads, we know it in our guts and it changes everything about the way we perceive the world around us and respond. This includes our desires and who or what we run to and lean on to fulfill those desires. It changes our hopes and dreams. It changes our motivations. It even changes our emotional responses (whether we worry or are at peace, what makes us happy or sad, etc.). We put our weight on what we believe in. We count on what we believe in to come through for us.
It’s one thing to know something the bible says. It’s another for that knowledge to change what you expect from God and how we live our lives. Do we merely know what God is promising us, or do we actually live as if we trust Him to fulfill His promises?
For example, because we know that God has bid His children to come to Him and ask for what they need, do we start with prayer? Or do we maybe sometimes pray, but certainly only after everything else has failed to yield the results we desire?
For knowledge to become faith it has to seep into our hearts and wills, defining who and what we trust, and influencing every aspect of our lives. As you might guess, this leads us to the third leg of the stool…
C. Biblical faith involves doing with our hands
Biblical faith involves doing. It becomes action. The third dimension of biblical faith is located in our hands. The Christian life is not passive, it’s a life of action. “Faith without works is dead,” the Apostle James said. If we believe something to be true, then it affects what we do. We make different decisions because of what we believe. Regardless of what we say, it’s what we do that most reveals our values and beliefs.
Let me share with you one of my favorite illustrations of faith at work…
Who here has been to Niagara Falls? Our family has not, but it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Niagara Falls is the collective name for three gigantic waterfalls, located on the Niagara River along the American-Canadian border, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The largest of these three waterfalls is the called “Horseshoe Falls.” It’s brink is about 2600 feet long and 170 feet high, and 600,000 gallons of water pour over the falls every second. So, that gives you a sense of their sheer immensity.
In 1858, a 34-year-old French acrobat named Jean François Gravelet, better known as Charles Blondin, was the first to walk across Niagara Falls on a tight-rope. He suspended a 2” rope across 1,300 feet from one side of the horseshoe falls to the other, and walked across with no practice, claiming that practice was just another opportunity to make a mistake. Once he’d done it the first time, it became a regular occurrence, getting more involved each time he did it and drawing larger and larger crowds. A few examples… Evidently he walked across looking through the lens of a camera, walked across backwards, did cartwheels across, walked across upside down on his hands, pushed a wheel barrel across, and even stopped for lunch in the middle sitting on the line, hauling up wine and other supplies by rope from a boat below him. This is crazy stuff!
Every time, the crowd cheered. Every time, they passionately expressed their belief that he could do whatever new ridiculous thing he claimed he would do next. And think about all the demonstrated competence the audience had on which to base their beliefs. But let’s say one day, he showed up with his wheel barrel and asked for volunteers to ride across the Falls in it. That would be the real test of who believed in him and who didn’t, wouldn’t it? Attending his shows doesn’t really constitute belief. Neither does cheering him on, or agreeing that he can do what he says he can do. But volunteering to ride across in his wheel barrel … actually getting in and riding across … that is how we know who really believes in the great Charles Blondin. That person knows in his head that Blondin can make it, trusts in his heart, and then acts accordingly.
And the same is true with us and Jesus. The faith that follows Jesus is a faith by which we know in our heads, trust in our hearts and acts accordingly. And Paul says in Galatians 2 that this is how we die to self and open our lives to Christ’s living in us.
Putting the Pieces Together
God calls us to be crucified with Christ. This means we bring all of life to God – what’s in our heads, hearts, and hands – and submit it to Him. Whatever He says to do with it, we do it, no questions asked. Even if it’s scary. Even when we realize how much it will cost. There is no price too high to pay for the life Jesus offers. We die to receive it. Then God Himself will live through us, claiming total and complete authority to dictate to us how life should work – again, what’s in our heads, hearts, and hands.
Throughout his letters, Paul refers to this as the putting off of one life and the putting on of another.
But, it’s at this point that we need to address a very critical issue: Who is doing the putting off and the putting on? Is it God? Is it me?
The bottom line is that it’s both! God saves us, but we think, trust, and act in submission and response to His work of salvation. Somehow, there is a mysterious and awesome partnership between the sovereign work of God and our active faith. It’s seemingly contradictory, and it creates tension. But to try to resolve the tension easily leads to error and heresy and disaster. Those who deemphasize God’s sovereign work and choices end up living lives of spiritual lethargy and acceptable sins, drifting through life bearing very little fruit for the kingdom of God. Those who deemphasize our responsibility end up working feverishly for something they can never earn, unable to trust God and rest in His grace. And both run the risk of rewriting the gospel to suit their own proclivities, which is to walk away from the true gospel at their own peril. To be biblical, we must accept the existence of this tension and embrace it.
And I don’t view this uncertainty as a bad thing, either. This tension should cause us to run to God, that we might walk with Him and depend on Him in the context of mysteries in the way God made us that we just cannot fully understand.
So, to help us do that, I want to offer five quick but important principles for doing so and then we’ll close…
1. The only “enough” is Jesus.
If you’re burning a bunch of calories trying to decide if you are good enough or pious enough or doing enough for God, let it go. The only “enough” in the Christian life is Jesus. And He is “enough” for all people in all things. Ask God to help you rest in Him!
2. God’s laws are gifts, not obligations.
If you’re going to start a new training regimen in 2017, train yourself to love God’s law. As a parent creates rules out of love for her children, so God disciplines and sets boundaries for those He loves. Ask God to change your mind!
3. Ask God what He wants and do it, no matter how scary it is.
Get a little risky. God will be there to catch you. I doubt there’s a person in this room, including myself, who couldn’t open themselves up to a little more earthly risk for the sake of the gospel. Remember, God lives in you. It’s His dreams we should focus on. And He will not seek to do in you what He does not make possible / equip us to achieve. Ask God to dream big dreams in you!
4. You will fail, but you can fall on God’s grace.
Part of being fallible is failing. That’s okay. Remember, God is doing something greater than you understand. And even if you get it “wrong,” God always gets it right. He can be unequivocally relied upon to catch you when you fall. Ask God to make you bold in the shelter of His grace!
5. Above all, actually walk and talk with God.
Until we’ve prayed, nothing else matters. Remember, prayer isn’t your way of punching orders into a vending machine, it’s walking and talking with God in the Garden in the cool of the day. It’s being with God. And being with God is how He rubs off on us. Ask God to transform you – to make you more like Jesus.
Hopefully these principles will be helpful in practically applying this message, especially the last one, as we view the Christian life as an ongoing surrender of self and an increasing openness to the power of God to live in us. Ask Him what that means for you every day, and do it, no matter what it costs! You won’t regret it.
When Jesus launched His earthly ministry, He did so with these words, which essentially restate our passage from today. He said, “The time has come. The Kingdom of Heaven has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
If you’ve never died to yourself and put your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and the renewal and regeneration of your life, you can do that right now!
Maybe you prayed a prayer a long time ago, but as you’re listening today you known in the pit of your soul that you have been trying to add a thin candy shell of Jesus to life the way you want to live it. And if you’re honest with yourself, you’d have to admit that you’ve never climbed up onto the cross next to Jesus and said, “Absolutely everything that I am and everything I have is yours. Take it, and give me your life in return.” Or maybe this is the first time you’ve ever stepped foot in a church or heard anything like what I’ve been saying. In either case, the God who made heaven and earth, who made you and loves you and gave Himself for you … He wants to live inside you so that you might know real life forever.
If that’s what you want, tell Him that right now; He’s always listening. Be honest with Him about where you are, and ask Him to meet you there. And then come find me or one of the elders or leaders after the service. We would love to pray with you and talk with you further.
But whatever you do, if God is tugging at your heart, don’t ignore it. Everything your life was meant to be waits for you in Jesus.
Behold, the time has come. The Kingdom of Heaven has come near. Repent and believe the good news!
Please stand with me, and let’s pray…
Father, you have called us to come and die that we might find life. And we do not come in faith to a God who stands far away or who cares little for tiny creatures like us, but we live by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself up for us. Jesus, you left the glory of heaven to come to a dirty barn in an ancient time in an obscure place, to be mistreated by people like us, and give your life as a ransom for many. And you call us to leave the brokenness and uncertainty of this world, that we might find glorious life in you. It seems like it should be an easy bargain, but it’s not … because we’re weak and selfish and afraid. Give us the courage to answer your call. I ask you, Father, to quicken the hearts of every person here, that we would rush to take up our crosses and find there life in you. For your sake, Jesus, I pray. Amen.