The ordinary idea which we all have before becoming Christians is this. We take as the starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else – call it morality, or decent behavior, or the good of society – has claims on this self: claims which interfere with its own desires. What we mean by being good is giving in to those claims. … But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes.
The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment the natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall becomes yours. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Giving up the self is difficult, especially if we take our ordinary self as the starting point. For me, the most difficult part of all this is giving up “all the desires which you think innocent.” It is easier to give up what I know is wrong, but what about the things which are good and do no harm? Surely Jesus can’t want those things as well … can he?
It is also difficult to give up those branches which I deny exist in me (though know full well they are there and are producing bad fruit). Sometimes I wish Jesus would just kill the whole self and get it over with instead of inviting me to climb up on the altar.
However, until I climb up on that altar I will never die. Until I die I will never experience resurrection. Until I experience resurrection I will never know the power of God. “Take up your cross daily” is an invitation to know the power of God daily, through death and resurrection. This week I invite you to join me in praying and searching the scriptures about what it means to let Jesus kill the whole self and give us a new self, his self.