I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Last night I had a dream that was rather shocking. In this dream I was interrupted at work by someone who needed my attention outside. She told me that something strange was going on, and I was the only one who could help her. She then proceeded to tell me about a woman who was pacing outside of a pool that had been winterized and covered over. Immediately, I thought that this woman was going to jump into the pool as a way of committing suicide. We ran outside and saw her take the first step toward the edge, and we began to scream and yell for her to stay where she was. As we approached, she jumped into the pool. Without hesitation, we jumped into the pool after her. After waking, I wondered whether in real life I would react in such a way to a person plunging into icy water. I wondered whether my reaction would be self-sacrifice or self-preservation. I hope it would be the former.
The idea of self-preservation completely complements the misheld belief that our life here on Earth is the only life that we have to live. If my short decades here are everything, then of course I would want to make sure that I extend this time as much as I can. My focus would be not only on how long I live my life but how well I live it. It might cause me not to sacrifice certain things, including myself, for others because I do not want to lose out on this little bit that we have here. God gives us something much truer and greater than this. He shows us that this life is just a vapor, and that self-sacrifice in his name is no loss. In fact, it comes with a reward. The problem is that sinful human nature does not operate in this way. In order for us to have within us that which would prompt us to desire to sacrifice ourselves for God, He must impart it to us. Left to ourselves, we would try to preserve what little we have, and that will one day fade away.
Sometimes I feel as if God presents us with one paradox after another. Jesus died so that we could be preserved. However, God also wants us to die to ourselves for that preservation. There really are two different lives at play here. What God wants is for us to relinquish to him the life that we have here, which is an act of sacrifice, and trust him to preserve us in perfection for eternity. We can think of it as an investment. If someone gave you a dollar today and told you that you could keep that dollar or relinquish it, and later that dollar would become 50 or 1,000 or 10,000, only a fool would hold on to his dollar today. It would not take much wisdom to realize that giving up the dollar now is by far the better option. What God gives us is the wisdom to realize that self-sacrifice now is the better option. Father, thank You for sending your Son to serve as the ultimate example of self-sacrifice, and continue to build this in us daily.