weekend Broadcast

I Am Crucified with Christ

From the series Less is More

Does your spiritual walk feel cluttered right now? Are you overwhelmed by all the ‘stuff’ you have going on, like looking into a messy garage or closet? In this program, we’re kicking off Chip’s series, Less is More: Decluttering Your Time with God. Join Chip as he helps slow life down by studying one key Bible verse at a time.

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Message Transcript

One of the most counterintuitive but true principles of life is this: sometimes less is more. Right? Some of us have had maybe a trip of a lifetime. I still remember this one where, you know, it’s like a vacation and there are places to see or there’s a number of cities that you want to see them all, because you have never been in that part of the country or that part of the world. And I remember this, we went from city to city and when we got there, then we visited this and we visited that. And we didn’t want to miss anything.

And after about nine days I realized I’m not sure I enjoyed much of anything. It was go, go, go, get up, get up, do this tour. We popped into this little city and, oh, but we haven’t seen this other one. And, you know, we went and went and went and went and I still remember thinking, You know, if I ever have a chance in my life to go back to that part of the country, you know what? I think I’m going to choose one or two places that we really want to see, I’m going to go deep and really enjoy it, but enjoy the time with my family.

And what I would say is the same can be true spiritually. You know, we live in a world where there’s such access, such opportunity. You’ve got an app that helps you pray, you have an app that guides you through something. You’re going to read the Bible in the morning, but there’s this great devotional that you read that before and you heard from someone you should read five psalms and one proverb along with that.

And so, isn’t it interesting that sometimes we get spiritually dry and you look at it and you say, you know, I’m in the Bible, I’m reading, I’m praying, I’m doing all these different things, and you find yourself, three or four hours later thinking, I can’t even remember what I read. And then it gets worse.

And, by the way, I’m in this with you, especially some of us that are really zealous, like, I really want to grow. I really want to learn. And I heard so-and-so does this and so-and-so turned me onto this devotional. Or, Oh man, that app is great.

And so, you find yourself doing more and, yet, there’s no power or there’s this vague sense of disconnect with God. It’s kind of like your soul is cluttered. It’s like there’s just so much and it’s activity and, all of those things have their place and have a great value. But the fact of the matter is, in some seasons spiritually, in your relationship with God, are you ready? Less is more.

And so, what I want you to know is if we are not careful we can all develop our own private works righteousness. And I have met people and I personally have been down this path and then I have to do U-turns every season or so. And you find somehow, unconsciously, if I read that devotional, I read these x chapters, I write in my journal, I do x, y, and z then I’m kind of good with God.

And, yet, what you find at times is you are really developing your spiritual disciplines, but the fact of the matter is, you don’t feel necessarily more connected to God and you don’t see the life of Christ being lived out in some relationships. And what I am going to suggest is rather than being overwhelmed or feeling guilty that what you need to do is you need to do less and not more.

And I am going to suggest that we do a little experiment. It’s something that I have practiced over the years just now and then. It’s not how you should do it all the time, but there are just times where you walk, at least I do, I walked into my closet and over time, there’s this and this and this and you realize, you know what? I have not worn some of that stuff in two years and, I really like those shoes and, it might rain again someday and that’s when I really only wear them. And, you have that moment and you just get out a big bag and you just declutter your closet and, you take it where maybe if it’s good you can pass it on to someone else. But you just have to simplify. And the practice that I have used, I just call it a one-verse time with God.

And I focus on reading just one verse and I meditate on just that one verse. And then I try and figure, Okay, Lord, rather than all this stuff, I just want to take one core, important, deep truth. And I don’t want to just read it in the morning. I want to walk it through my life and my heart all throughout the day. And so, I build little times that I’ll talk to You about… you know, how can we get one thought, one deep connection? And you don’t have to feel guilty because you didn’t read your devotional and you didn’t open this app and you didn’t write in your journal. I’m giving you permission, okay?

At least for a week if you want to, and you feel like you need to declutter, that we are just going to take one verse a day and we are going to walk through a process, a very, very practical process where we are going to keep it in front of us and we are going to meditate on it and we are going to think about it and we are going to apply it and we are going to ask God to speak to us and reconnect us around this one truth.

And so, I want to start with, I think, the most important truth in all the world and that Jesus wants to have the same place and provide the same resource in our personal lives that He does in the whole universe. Jesus is the center of the universe, like the sun is the center of all the planets. And when all the planets are in right relationship with the sun, there’s this gravitational pull and this rhythm. And it puts them in relationship with all the other planets.

The most important thing in my life and in your life, with all the pulls and all the demands and all the concerns and all the anxieties and all the what-ifs, is that Jesus is the center of your life. He is the focus of your life.

The apostle Paul put it this way. He said, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live. Yet not I but Christ lives within me. And this life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

That’s our verse. If you were going to write this on a card or put it in your notes on the phone because you want to bring it up because we are going to talk about how to make that single truth, I mean, the core of our thinking all this day and if it’s better for you, you can even do this two or three days.

But let’s just start with Galatians 2:20. The context is important and I’ll just give a brief overview, is the apostle Paul has found himself with a group of people that the Galatians have come to Christ, they have trusted Him, they have seen miraculous things happen. And, yet, some people have come and said, “Well, Jesus is good, but you need to add all these other things.” And whether it’s circumcision or eating certain foods or following the Jewish law. And he says, “No, no, it’s justification by faith. It’s what Christ did in our place.”

And then he tells sort of this story of how in the early gatherings of the Church that the Church was learning this and there were Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. And there was a time when Peter was, mister leader of the Church and yet he stumbled. When he was with Gentiles, he gave up the dietary laws, he realized he had this freedom.

And then some of the really bigwigs from Jerusalem came down that were really into the law and little by little, Peter stopped eating with the Gentiles. And Paul rightly saw that: What you’re doing here is hypocrisy. Your behavior is absolutely saying the gospel is not true. Yes, it’s Jesus around the Gentiles but now you’re intimidated by these people, you’re trying to keep the law and follow all the rules. And what do these Gentiles think? What do the other Jews think? In fact, he went on to say: My best buddy Barnabas, he followed your hypocrisy.

And so, Paul confronts him and that’s the context of all of this. And what he is going to say, then, in Galatians 2:20, using himself as an example in contrast to what has happened with these leaders is that: I am crucified with Christ. That’s the first fact.

And the deeper teaching is in Romans chapter 6, but what he is really saying is when you put your faith in Jesus, we were connected with Him in every way. When He died, we died with Him. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. When He rose, we rose with Him.

And Paul is saying that in this new supernatural relationship, I am – and it’s a tense of the verb – I am, and I continue to be, crucified with Christ. In other words, so I am dead to the demands of the law. The old Chip, with all of his arrogance and all of his self-righteousness and all the deeds that he has done that are wrong, that Chip died. And you can fill your name in. I have been crucified with Christ.

And then the next fact is: But I am still alive, right? Nevertheless, I live. And then he goes on to say, well, what does that mean? I live now but in a new state. I live forgiven. I live connected to Jesus. I live justified, loved just for who I am. Because when Christ died, He paid for the sins of all people of all time. When Christ died, the devil was defeated, the power of sin was defeated. Whatever is true of Jesus actually became true of me when we got connected by faith.

I don’t know about you, this is hard to get my mind around. And I often use this little illustration, because this is a concept, right? And I take a little piece of wood and I’ll put it in, like, a big pan of water and the wood is floating. And then I’ll take, like, a nail or something and I’ll drop it in the same pan and it sinks to the bottom.

And then I’ll tell people, you know, myself included is that wood is the life of Christ. And that nail is my life. They each have a nature. They each have a property. Wood floats; nails drop in water.

And then I take the nail out and I take a big, thick rubber band and I connect them and then I put it back in there. And it’s interesting, the wood is floating but the nail is on top of the wood; now they are both floating.

And I know this is a theological concept and it’s a bit hard to grasp. I want you to know, it is the very heart of an intimate relationship with Jesus. Otherwise we will just make up new laws. I’ve got to read three chapters, I’ve got to read this devotional, if I haven’t written in my journal today God is not going to bless my life. And then we add all kind of lists to it.

And Paul says stop it! We have been crucified with Christ. Past is gone. Nevertheless, we live, but we live in this new relationship. You can’t get God to love you more than He loves you right now. He says, “Nevertheless, I live.” And then he talks about: This is how it works, “Yet not I but Christ lives within me.”

And what we know is when we turn from our sin and we receive Jesus by faith, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The Holy Spirit comes into our physical body. He seals us, He deposits spiritual gifts, He loves us, He’s for us.

And what He does, He manifests the presence and the power and the personality of Christ within us. It’s when Jesus was praying and talked about, “It’s better that I leave. The Spirit will come.” And so He lives in you, He lives in me. So, He says, “Yet not I but Christ lives within me.” It’s relationship. It’s the very person, think of this, you know?

We read Scriptures about our bodies are the temple of God. Why? Because the Spirit of God dwells in us. We are His special person. He already loves you; He is for you.

And then here’s the part, “And this life,” or, “this new life I live, I live by faith.” How? “In the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.” So, it’s about trusting God, it’s about being connected in this relationship.

You know, you might be in the car, you might be on the treadmill, you might be just taking a walk, I want you to just kind of walk through mentally, “I am crucified with Christ.” You are. I am. Nevertheless, I live. Right? We are alive.

And this life that I now live in the flesh, right? In my physical body, in your physical body, I live – how? By trying hard? By getting God’s approval? By reading more, doing more, praying? No. And this new life I live, I live by faith. I am trusting what Christ did for me.

And not just for my salvation. By faith, the Spirit of God is connecting me to Him and do I need God’s Word? Yes. Do I need God’s people? Absolutely. Do I need to discipline myself? For sure. But He says: here’s the focus. I live by faith and it’s a relationship in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

To which then it’s like, You know, Lord, if You were willing to die for me, if You were willing to give up all for me, I want to die to my agenda and myself. I want You to be the center of my life. I want, just like the planets revolve around the sun, I want my relationships and my work and my attitude and my thoughts and my money and my dreams – I want them to revolve around You.

And what we all know is we struggle with that. We get out of orbit, if you will. And when I get out of orbit it impacts my relationship with my wife, it impacts, you know, my emotions, it impacts my friends. And there’s just times where I think in our best efforts we just try so hard and develop a bit of a works or self-righteousness - that less really is more.

And so, I want to give you permission and let me give you a little game plan here. Galatians 2:20 is our passage. And I have kind of written this out so you can click on the website if you want just the little thing that I am going to share. So we’re going to review and meditate on this passage: Galatians 2:20.

And for some, you’re going to think, “This is so old school, Chip.” Please. There’s something powerful in terms of the learning process when you write something out and you see it with your eyes. Find a 3x5 card, a piece of paper, something small but where you can write clearly and boldly. Write this out. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live. Yet not I but Christ lives within me. And this new life I live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

And then all I want you to do, depending on when you’re listening and kind of when we are spending this time together, the next meal the family’s there say, “Hey, you know, I’m just focusing on one verse today and would you all mind before we kind of pray for the food and…” Just read it. Before you go to bed, just read it.

And are you ready for this one? Some of us are going to run an errand today or you’re going to go to work, you’re going to come back from work, and we are creatures of habit. So, you either turn on the radio and for some of us it’s, you know, hey, the sports, and others it’s music, others it’s a podcast. I’m going to ask you, just today, don’t turn anything on and just as you’re driving, I mean, I’m not even asking you to memorize it.

But when you keep looking at it and reading it and pondering, just in your mind, I am crucified with Christ. And then start asking questions. What does that mean to me? What died? What have I been delivered from? What has Jesus done for me? What does it mean that now I live, but I live forgiven and loved and - you get the idea? You start asking questions. And then one of the questions out of this I ask is, Is there any area in my life, Lord, that You’re not the center?

And just ask yourself that. And instead of the harsh voice that you might hear in your mind or from your family of origin, hear the tender Spirit of God saying, I don’t think your marriage, you know, I don’t think I’m the center of that right now. Or, you’re kind of, like, into the how-do-I-get-to-the-top, what am I going to do? My agenda.

And just say, Well, Lord, just show me. I want You to be the center. And wherever there’s a spot, I believe You loved me and gave Yourself for me. You are not down on me.

And then I think the other thing that I do is I just would encourage you to then ask: Holy Spirit, You live inside of me, would You help me? Would You help me allow Christ to be the center of everything? So, show me and lead me.

And are you ready? Just tell Him, I can’t do this. I can’t try hard enough to make Christ the center. He lives in me, but I’m not experiencing that fully. Would You help me? And this may sound a little crazy, but relax and enjoy this passage. You know? This is not like a hammer. Okay, I’ve got one verse, I’ve got to get it memorized. I’m going to go for it. I’m going to… Just, would you just lean back spiritually and let God love you? He died for you. He is for you. He has empowered you. He wants to lead you.

And then the final thing I would say is share it with someone.

Those are just some things that they are suggestions for you to put this into practice, to declutter.

Father, thank You that we are loved. Thank You that we died with You, we were buried with You, Lord Jesus, we rose from the dead to walk in newness of life. Thank You that You’re for us and that You’re not down on us. And I pray right now for my brothers and sisters, would You free them from the works-righteousness and the self-righteousness and the anxiety and the struggles? Oh please, manifest Your presence to us. Speak to us, renew us, revive us. In Jesus’ name, amen.