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Christians: The Living Dead

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On Easter Sunday, I remembered something: I’m already dead.

Why fear death if I’ve already died? That sounds odd, I know, but we Christians believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, and that when we are baptized we share in the death of Jesus. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we also share in His resurrection, and we rise with Him. We are risen in Christ. The old self has died and we become new creations — new creations that have eternal life in Christ. Our eternal lives in Christ do not begin at some future date when our bodies can no longer hold onto life and our souls are taken up into Heaven. Our heavenly lives, because they are eternal, are being lived already, here and now on earth — with, through, and in Christ.

This is a call to pure unselfishness. As images of God, we are created for the infinite. We are not meant to worry and fret about our finite desires or even needs. As Christians, we trust in Him who lived among us and went before us. He taught us not to be overly concerned with the perishable for ourselves, but rather to be mindful of the needs of others. We love our neighbors as ourselves, and we love ourselves as images of God, and we love God foremost and always, with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Whatever we do in service for the least among us, we do for Christ Himself, God in the flesh, and it is the Spirit of God that lives and works in and through us.

St. Paul wrote,

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-4). “I have been crucified with Christ.” It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:19-20.)

What Kind of Sci-Fi Is This?

I’m quite aware that this sounds bizarre. Is Christ then some kind of parasite who has taken over my body, and I am merely a host controlled by the parasite? No. My mind is certainly my own, as is my body — as much as anything belongs to me. My own very real act of will is required in order for me to “put on the mind of Christ” and allow the power of God to work in and through me. I must cooperate with the will of God, and by so doing, I am enabled to participate in the life of God in a way that is particular to me. This is a great mystery, but God is a mystery, and the full reality of my life is hidden in God.

Perhaps you were struck by the title of this reflection. That was my intention. I read an Easter meme that poked fun at our belief in Jesus’s resurrection by saying, “Happy Zombie Day,” and have even heard someone refer to Jesus as a zombie, no doubt with a desire to be irreverent. Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and glorified, is not now a member of the living dead, because He is not dead. That’s what the Resurrection means. Two days after He was killed, Jesus became bodily alive again by the power of God, because Jesus is God: fully divine, and also fully human. He did not lose His humanity with the Resurrection. In a way, He became even more fully human when His very human body was resurrected and glorified, for this is the fulfillment to which God calls every human being. We are created to know, love, and serve the divine in this life and to be blissful with God forever in the next.

Daily Death — Daily Resurrection

In order for us to be fulfilled, we must die with Christ. That doesn’t mean that we simply need to croak one day. We need to willingly give up our old lives of selfishness, of sin, and allow God to make us new. Through the mystery of baptism, and the renewal of our baptismal promises every day — turning away from evil, uniting our sufferings with those of Christ, and giving all of our love and talent to the work of God — we die with Christ on the Cross. And we rise with Christ. We are reborn, born from above, born again as new creations, living in Christ as Christ lives in us, not just later on in Heaven, but here and now.

When the day of my bodily death comes, I will be called to unite my dying with Christ’s dying on the Cross. But, hopefully, I will have practiced, through the grace of God, with my daily dying to self and daily rising to divine life. I am a practicing Christian, after all. And so I remember that I am dead. My self-centered mortality has passed away. I live now in Christ, with Christ, through Christ, because of Christ, and He has ascended to heavenly glory forever and ever. That’s where my true life and true identity is, and it will never end. And no, Heaven is not some faraway other place. Heaven is here and now because Christ is universal, Christ is forever united with me, with you, with every human being, in every time and every place, and in every situation. But we cannot receive Him and the divine, eternal life that is His if we are too full of ourselves. We are dead, remember? When we realize that the fullness of being human is to be God-centered and not self-centered, then, and only then, are we fully alive.

Happy Easter!

© 2019 Christina Chase

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

4 thoughts on “Christians: The Living Dead Leave a comment

  1. I love your message and finally have time to dwell on it.
    What a beautiful mind you have Christina.
    I Have to put on the mind of Christ and cooperate with the will of God.
    You are a beautiful inspiring woman thank you Christina


    • Thank you for your kind encouragement and for reflecting with me! If there is any beauty in my mind, it is the beauty of the mind of Christ. The Spirit of God is willing and waiting to inspire and embolden each and every one of us in ways particular to the unique souls that we are. (Oh God, may I always be open and attentive!)
      I’m grateful for the inspiration and courage that I receive from Him through my readers! Pax Christi


  2. What’s so delightful, and unusual, about this blog, Christina, is how you can talk reverently and irreverently in one breath, so to speak..

    Which is the real you, I sometimes wonder. The preacher who says all the right words or the pew-sitter who listens to the preacher and thinks wow, how crazy is this, how crazily beautiful, awesome.*

    To put it another way, you have determined faith but also understand the difficulty some have in talking the talk even as they struggle to walk, and maybe need to be pushed, at least now and then.

    I realize the metaphor may jar– too close to home– but that’s partly what I’m getting at. Your life appears unique, jarring to those who don’t know you, unsettling (as faith is — all of these things) yet you don’t allow that to distance yourself. You are relateable, like a good teacher: you lay out the facts (of faith, in this case) and signal along the way that you know what it’s le to be a student. You talk while walking side by side.

    So. . .: while you are “preaching,” you are also sitting in the pew and wondering, along with the rest of the world that’s in attendance. I trust that in your book you are likewise letting both selves, both real and important and affecting, to live between the pages.

    Looking forward to reading more,

    * That last part is not exactly irreverent talk, but I learned somewhere that parallelism can make complex idras seem simple and the writer smart..


    • 😀
      I have thought of many ways to respond to your comment, dear Al, for your response is richly thought-provoking. (I love that!) I will gather the many prodded, loosened, and showering thoughts into a future blog reflection (or two or three…). Right now, however, I will say this because I enjoy our conversations and do not in any way want to leave you with no answer:

      When I am “teaching” in my reflections, I am really being taught. For I am only a student, always a student. Little and limited am I — are you… are we. The inexhaustible mystery of life cannot run dry while we live here on God’s green earth, but is always flowing. (More on that later.)

      There will also be another post about the divine gift of a sense of humor, about not being afraid of the whole truth, about loving the ironies and absurdities. Another one will be about God’s reactions to our mistakes, and there will even be a poem that starts, “Is piety dull sobriety?”

      As for my book, I hope that I am being true to myself in the book, since I am called to be both king and servant, both prophet and disciple, just like every human being is. The book is about wonder, the sacred wonder of being human as glimpsed through Christ’s little human life and mine.

      I’m all about the wonder.

      Many blessings and thanks to you, Al! Pax Christi

      Liked by 1 person

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