“And it is no longer I who live, but it is 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.”
He Who Lives In Me
Today’s passage shows the core of Christian belief and it describes Christian life. What Christian life is all about and how we live as a Christian. In modern times, there’s a really blurry line between being Christian and non-Christian. Some people think that being a moralist is being a Christian. Or doing well in society is what it means to be Christian. There are very confusing messages all around, but particularly when it comes to what it means to live as a Christian.
St. Paul summarized in one verse what Christian life is all about. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh. I live by the faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Probably we are familiar with this verse. Now I want you to reflect on it. You know those words in words, but what does that mean without using doctrine. What does that mean? What does it mean that it is no longer I who lives in me? It is no longer I who lives in me? What does it mean that the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me? What does it mean that Jesus Christ lives in me? All these things sounds good and okay, but we don’t really understand the implication of what that means is. I mean, when you look at it, I didn’t really put the red mark, but you see “I, me” six times in one small passage. Six times he talks about me, I. Who am I? Who am I? Am I happy and satisfied? I mean, as a Christian you’re supposed to be happy and satisfied. So because I go to church and I’m a Christian, I’m supposed to be happy and satisfied, but are we? Am I happy and satisfied? Am I free and living a fulfilling life?
Last Wednesday, I was pretty disturbed. I have this new alert from a New York Times, so every morning I get a news. In the morning and in the evening I read it everyday. And then this time I came to an article that said two reporters were killed during the interview. I looked at the time and it was just two hours before I read that article. I was disturbed. The whole day I followed the development of the story to see who did this, who did this horrible thing. And the first thing that came to my mind is that it was another gun. Oh, I hate guns. I said to myself, I mean, you see news scene interviews every day. That’s what you see when you turn on the TV. It’s a very common thing that people do. They were not in a war zone. They were not in a dangerous place. They will in a local town, a very safe place, and this horrible thing happened right in front of your eyes. I got so disturbed. Why?
People get killed in the movie theater. People get killed in the train. People even get killed when they have a Bible study. This killer was right there for one hour participating in the Bible study and then killed them all. Does it make sense? Does this world makes sense? What is this world coming to? I mean, we are talking about being successful. Oh, the world society is progressing and then development and other kinds of things… while people’s souls are dying. The spirit of the people is dying and we talk about all the progress. Are we progressing or regressing? In what way are we progressing? The incident shows the disease of the modern people. I see people who are imprisoned – not in prison, not under the dictatorial government – but in themselves. People become more and more prisoners in themselves.
You Might Not Know It But…
The suspected murderer said that he had been like a human powder keg for awhile. Just waiting go boom, and he did. He said, “I am angry.” He was imprisoned in his own anger. I was questioning, what is freedom? What is freedom? When we think about freedom, the first thing that comes to my mind and people’s minds is to do whatever you like. Without being restricted by anything or by anyone, do whatever you like. Yes, that is freedom. In some parts of the world, women, even though they want to study, they cannot study just simply because they’re a woman. When they tried to study they get shot. They cannot do whatever they like. In some parts of the world, they cannot worship like you do right now. You freely came to worship God, but in some parts of the world, they cannot worship God freely. They cannot do whatever they like, so doing whatever you like, yes, that is freedom and we enjoy that freedom in this country. I thank God that we enjoy the freedom.
Even if we have all the freedom to do whatever you like, when you are imprisoning yourself, you cannot have true freedom. Even though you do whatever you like, if you are imprisoning yourself, how can you have freedom? We forget that sometimes we are the biggest problem. We imprison ourselves. We are imprisoned in our own problems, in our own anger, in our own insecurity, in our own selves. We are imprisoned. That was what St. Paul discovered. He didn’t know, but he was imprisoned. Of course he was not enslaved by anger like the murderer. St. Paul did not even know that he was enslaved by himself. He thought that he was living a good, righteous life. Then one day he realized that the righteous life that he lived, that itself is the greatest power to imprison him, his own righteousness became my own prisoner.
During Jesus’ time, that’s what the Pharisees did. They were righteous. They were great. “Yeah. I’m better than you!”. That kind of attitude, and then they were actually imprisoned in their own righteousness. They were the ones who killed the Son of God, and St. Paul was doing the same thing. He was on the way to Damascus. He was imprisoned in his own righteousness. “Those people, I have to kill them.” He was imprisoned that he was on the way to do that, and then he realized he met Christ. He realized that his own righteousness was imprisoning him, enslaving him. It was a very sophisticated understanding. He was a righteous man, but he realized that his own righteousness had enslaved him.
Stuck In Bondage
There are many things within us that enslave us. We ourselves sometimes are the worst enemies when it comes to having true freedom. Some people live in their anger, just a little thing triggers them. They get so angry. Some people are imprisoned in their greed, “Oh, I have to be better than you. I have to have more than you. I have to excel. Nobody can beat me.” Some people live in imprisonment of selfishness insecurity, pride, ignorance and false religiosity. The righteousness that comes from your own efforts, our own darkness, sometimes we are imprisoned in our own boredom. Life is boring. I don’t know what to do. These things enslave us.
With all these things going on in me, how can I have true freedom? How can I have true happiness and satisfaction? How can I experienced the fullness of life when these things are going on within me? I don’t even know that I’m imprisoned. When we are enslaved by ourselves, where do we escape? When a country enslaves me, I can run away from the country and go to another country. That’s what’s happening in lot of places; Syria, Afghanistan, all of these people go to a European country to run away from that enslavement. So many people get killed, Just in the last few days, many hundreds of people just got killed in the process of that dangerous journey.
St. Paul found this solution. He said, in today’s passage, “It is no longer I who live in me.” Before he was the most important thing and he was the boss and he was the main actor of his life. Everything was about him. Salvation was about him, righteousness was about him, everything was about him. He was at the center of everything. He was at the center of the universe. But after meeting Christ, he realized that he did not have to think about himself all the time. “Life is not just all about me,” he realized. He did not have to be the center of everything. He could let himself go. He didn’t have to control his life. It is true freedom not to have to think about yourself all the time. That’s true freedom. That is true salvation.
Break Your Chains
I read somewhere in a book, it says, “When the shoes fit you, you don’t have to think about your feet. When your belt fits you. You don’t have to think about your waist. When everything is in harmony, you don’t have to think about yourself.” It is true. When you’re in harmony with yourself, you don’t need to think about yourself. When you have lot of problems with yourself, you always think about yourself. You have a lot of insecurities. You always have to think about yourself. When you have a lot of pride, you’ll need to always think about yourself, but when you’re in harmony with everything, then you don’t need to think about yourself. That is true freedom from yourself. The real salvation is not to pay attention to yourself, but to completely forget about yourself.
When we can completely forget about ourselves, we can live a much more meaningful life. The tube of flute has to be hollow to make the beautiful sound, the canvas has to be empty so that beautiful art can be created. That was the truth. Jesus taught us and St. Paul expressed it in this way. “This is Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness”. Jesus displayed his most beautiful self by emptying himself. Oh my goodness, what a truth. Don’t be fooled by untruth. Be inspired by the truth. Jesus displayed his most beautiful self by emptying himself, not showing off himself. He said, “If you try to save yourself, you will lose it, but if you lose yourself for the sake of the Gospel, you will find it.” How much more true can it get? Don’t be fooled by the philosophy of this world; “Promote yourself. Be the celebrity. Be famous. These successful, be loved by people.” The more you think about yourself, the smaller you become.
There is a funny story about a rabbi. There was a rabbi who was seriously ill, and his disciples came to visit him. Beside his bed, they were talking among themselves about how great the rabbi was. One of them said there was not a single person as wise as him since the day of Solomon. The other said his faith was like Abraham’s faith. And another one said he was so intimate with God that he was like Moses. He could face God. He could meet God face to face. He was just a wonderful man. While they were talking all about great things about this rabbi, the rabbi look disturbed. After they had all gone, the wife asked rabbi, did you hear all the praise that they made? He replied “Yes.” “How come you look disturbed?” And he said, “No one mentioned anything about my humility.” The more you empty yourself, the more you will become full. The more you empty yourself, the more freedom you’ll enjoy. Let us reflect on St. Paul’s words once more… “And it is no longer I who live, but it is 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.”
What we need to meditate on every day is not ourselves. It is about the love of Jesus Christ. That is something that we need to meditate on every day. Then you will become free from the fear of yourself, fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of non-existence. I told KSM members because they are closer to the end of their lives, “If you think about yourself so much and if you are attaching yourself so much, how can you die? How can you let yourself go when death comes to you? You’re wonderful. You don’t need to think about yourself all the time. You’re wonderful as it is. You’re beautiful as you are.” So enjoy your life. Celebrate your life. Always be thankful for the love of Jesus Christ who loves you so much.