In this idea of holy nesting dolls, it is not just Christ who lives (and dies) in me, but it is also I who live (and die) in Him. And as I wrote yesterday that it is only in the heart that Christ is willing to stretch out His hands and die, I find that the same is true of me.
It is only in Him that I am willing to do the same.
Jesus says that anyone who wants to be like Him must take up their cross daily and follow Him. But it's only when we are living in Him that we're willing to take hold of this splintered world and shoulder it, making it our burden. It's only when we're living in Him and are surrounded, enveloped, by His love, by His peace, by His patience, that we're able to even do such a thing. Taking up your cross, it's not about taking on the punishment of sin and death; it's about taking on the burden of a broken world. That's what carrying the cross means.
And yet, the Scriptures also take us a step further. It is said not only that we must take up our cross and follow Him, but also that we are crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but Him in us.
To be crucified means not just to shoulder the burden of this broken world, but to stretch out your hands and embrace is, or be embraced by it. Now, I can be a pretty self-protective person. I think all of us can be. There's something about us that likes to live closed in on itself, shielded by our own best defenses against the troubles of this world. I imagine so many of us living with our arms wrapped tightly around ourselves, all hunched over, curled into our smallest forms like turtles tucked into their shells.
When we are crucified with Christ, we no longer do this. When we are crucified with Christ, we unwrap ourselves from...ourselves. We, like Him, willingly stretch out our hands. We open ourselves. We open our lives. We take on a bigger, more open form. In doing so, we put our very hearts in a vulnerable position. Our chests lie wide open to the world, our hearts right there for either gore or grace.
It would be an act of courage if there weren't something about being found in Jesus that so overwhelms us. Because we live in Him, this is no courage at all; it is faith.
It is faith that recognizes grace where it finds it. It is a faith that is overwhelmed by peace, that has found its place that cannot be shaken, come what may. It is a faith that is wrapped in boundless love and finds that here, and only here, it can give freely without having less. It can offer itself without losing itself. I can give the world everything that God created in me and only ever become more of that very thing.
But it is only here that I am willing to do that. It is only when I am found in Christ, and He in me, that I am willing and able to offer myself to a dying world. It is only here that I am able to stretch out my hands, to bare my heart, to bear the burdens of this broken world. It is only here...and here, I cannot do any different.
That is the power of Christ in me...me in Him...and Him in me.