I answered quickly, “Oh, no, not that. Why, no one would ever see, No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me!”
And the word He spoke, it was not stern, HE answered me tenderly, “Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;
Art thou working for them or me’ Nazareth was a little place, And so was Galilee.”
The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman (Minneapolis: World Wide Publ., 1948), p. 209.
Crucified with Christ
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
There seems to be a great throng of professing Christians in our churches today whose total and amazing testimony sounds about like this: “I am thankful for God’s plan in sending Christ to the cross to save me from hell.”
I am convinced that it is a cheap, low-grade and misleading kind of Christianity that impels people to rise and state: “Because of sin I was deeply in debt—and God sent His Son, who came and paid all my debts.”
Of course believing Christian men and women are saved from the judgment of hell, and it is a reality that Christ our Redeemer has paid the whole slate of debt and sin that was against us.
But what does God say about His purpose in allowing Jesus to go to the cross and to the grave? What does God say about the meaning of death and resurrection for the Christian believer?
Surely we know the Bible well enough to be able to answer that: God’s highest purpose in the redemption of sinful humanity was based in His hope that we would allow Him to reproduce the likeness of Jesus Christ in our once-sinful lives!
This is the reason why we should be concerned with this text—this testimony of the Apostle Paul in which he shares his own personal theology with the Galatian Christians who had become known for their backsliding. It is a beautiful miniature, shining forth as an unusual and sparkling gem, an entire commentary on the deeper Christian life and experience. We are not trying to take it out of its context by dealing with it alone. We are simply acknowledging the fact that the context is too broad to be dealt with in any one message.
It is the King James version of the Bible which quotes Paul: “I am crucified with Christ.” Nearly every other version quotes Paul as speaking in a different tense: “I have been crucified with Christ,” and that really is the meaning of it: “I have been crucified with Christ.”
This verse is quoted sometimes by people who have simply memorized it and they would not be able to tell you what Paul was really trying to communicate. This is not a portion of Scripture which can be skipped through lightly. You cannot skim through and pass over this verse as many seem to be able to do with the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm.
The Full Meaning
This is a verse with such depth of meaning and spiritual potential for the Christian believer that we are obligated to seek its full meaning—so it can become practical and workable and livable in all of our lives in this present world.
It is plain in this text that Paul was forthright and frank in the matter of his own personal involvement in seeking and finding God’s highest desires and provision for Christian experience and victory. He was not bashful about the implications of his own personality becoming involved with the claims of Jesus Christ.
Not only does he plainly testify, “I have been crucified,” but within the immediate vicinity of these verses, he used the words I, myself and me a total of fourteen times….
I believe Paul knew that there is a legitimate time and place for the use of the word I. In spiritual matters, some people seem to want to maintain a kind of anonymity, if possible. As far as they are concerned, someone else should take the first step. This often comes up in the manner of our praying, as well. Some Christians are so general and vague and uninvolved in their requests that God Himself is unable to answer. I refer to the man who will bow his head and pray: “Lord, bless the missionaries and all for whom we should pray. Amen.”
It is as though Paul says to us here: “I am not ashamed to use myself as an example. I have been crucified with Christ. I am willing to be pinpointed.”
Only Christianity recognizes why the person who is without God and without any spiritual perception gets in such deep trouble with his own ego. When he says I, he is talking about the sum of his own individual being, and if he does not really know who he is or what he is doing here, he is besieged in his personality with all kinds of questions and problems and uncertainties.
Most of the shallow psychology religions of the day try to deal with the problem of the ego by jockeying it around from one position to another, but Christianity deals with the problem of I by disposing of it with finality.
The Bible teaches that every unregenerated human being will continue to wrestle with the problems of his own natural ego and selfishness. His human nature dates back to Adam. But the Bible also teaches with joy and blessing that every individual may be born again, thus becoming a “new man” in Christ.
When Paul speaks in this text, “I have been crucified,” he is saying that “my natural self has been crucified.” That is why he can go on to say, “Yet I live”—for he has become another and a new person—“I live in Christ and Christ lives in me.”
“It was May 21, 1946. The place – Los Alamos. A young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific atoll at Bikini.
“He had successfully performed such an experiment many times before. In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction—scientists call it the critical mass—he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus instantly stopping the chain reaction.
But that day, just as the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped! The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. Instantly the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze.
Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and thereby possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and thus interrupted the chain reaction. By this instant, self-forgetful daring, he saved the lives of the seven other persons in the room. . . (A)s he waited. . for the car that was to take him to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, ‘You’ll come through all right. But I haven’t the faintest chance myself’ It was only too true. Nine days later he died in agony.
Over nineteen centuries ago the Son of the living God walked directly into sin’s most concentrated radiation, allowed Himself to be touched by its curse, and let it take His life . . . But by that act He broke the chain reaction. He broke the power of sin. – Planet In Rebellion, George Vandeman.