The Walking Dead (Notes from January 17, 2016)

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While there are many things I miss about being a full-time logger, there are just as many things  I don’t miss. One thing I don’t miss is the way we were constantly dealing with mud during the winter and early spring. I vividly remember one time when it was so bad that not only did it soil my coveralls, it also soaked into my work uniform and even my underwear. All I could do at this point was remove the dirty clothes, take a shower and put on “new” clothes.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:1-17 this is what happens to us when we become followers of Jesus Christ. We remove the stain of our sins and rebellious attitudes towards God  by removing our old selves, being washed in the blood of Christ and putting on our new self. When this happens, we are to show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love to each other. Basically we understand through our years of following Jesus that this is what God expects of us. However, I have a question we with which we all need to wrestle:

Do I show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love to myself?

Or am I constantly criticizing and degrading myself because I think I’m not good enough? This might be because of things that have been said to me in the past or because of things that have been done to me in the past. We like to convince ourselves that we’ve died to ourselves and are now living for Jesus. Our image to others is also important. We want others to see us walking around with our new, clean self while giving the impression we have it all together. While this is certainly true in many areas of our lives, we can still fell like we’re wearing dirty underclothes because we base our self-worth on what people have said or done to us rather than on what Jesus did for us on the cross. Events from our past can be so devastating there are areas in our lives where we don’t feel like we’re alive in Christ. Instead of dying to ourselves we’re just dying. Instead of feeling alive, we feel like the walking dead. On the outside there are smiles and a happy face but on the inside there is fear, doubt and questions about our self-worth.

What causes us to think and feel like this? There are three main forces that come against us to convince us we’re still dirty.

The first is Satan. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 indicates that one of his main tactics is to outwit people by manipulating them to harbor an unforgiving attitude. Refusing to forgive each other creates division and ineffectiveness in the church. This not only applies to forgiving other people, it also applies to forgiving ourselves. How many times has Satan whispered something like this into your mind? “Do you really think God can forgive what you’ve done?” “You’ll never be good enough to make it to heaven so why even try to follow Jesus?” “You’ll have to work harder if you want to be forgiven.” “Do you really think anybody else in the church even cares for you? You’re on your own.”

The second force that makes us think like this is other people. It could be from our family members, friends, teachers, church leaders, friends or society at large. It might be through words such as: “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re too stupid to do that.” “You’re not very attractive.” “You’re too fat.” “Can’t you do anything right?” It could also be through their actions. If you’ve been abused -physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually by Christians who live in legalism instead of grace – it affects you to this day. Perhaps someone took advantage of you in the past and now you have trouble trusting anyone. If you were abandoned by a parent or loved one you can feel you aren’t worth anything or they would have stayed.

The third force that convinces us to be among the walking dead is, unfortunately, our own selves. Do you ever lie to yourself by saying: “I can’t do this so why even try?” “I’ll never amount to anything.” “I’m not very smart.” “I’m not very attractive.” “I can’t …. (fill in the blank).” “I’m not…. (fill in the blank).”

To varying degrees, everyone of us had some of these things happen to us and they help determine our identity. Even though we believe we have salvation in Jesus, we still don’t feel clean inside and the peace of Jesus Christ doesn’t rule our hearts. We then come to church feeling like there are empty places in us but we have to act like we have it all together. This makes us feel like frauds and only adds to our guilt. Living like this isn’t what it means to be alive in Christ.

Are you tired of living in the lies that Satan, others and even we tell ourselves? Are you tired of allowing past abuses or hurts making you miserable today? Are you tired of coming to church and pretending you’re something you’re not? Are you tired of being tired? Do you want to be free? Dying to ourselves and being raised with Jesus includes letting go of these thoughts, hurts and lies that we’ve convinced ourselves is true. Living in this type of pain isn’t what Jesus wants for us. He didn’t die on the cross for us to still live like this.

How do you begin to let go?

1) Ask God to show you all of these areas in your life. Some of these areas are known to you but you may have buried other areas deep within you because they are so painful. You think you’ve moved on from them but you really haven’t.

2) Make a conscious choice to die to these lies. Although God wants us to let go in these areas, he will let us keep living in the pain if we want to do so.

3) Ask Jesus to help you let go. If you could let go of these things yourself, you would have already done so. This may need to include talking about it with someone you trust.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us so we could be part of the walking dead. He died so we could be free.