The story of Easter is a profound map of the spiritual journey. Jesus plainly calls us to pick up our cross and follow him to death. The death which Jesus modeled is the death of the false self. It is the crucifixion of the ego. It is the end of what was never real. And out of that death rises what always was – the true self, the eternal self, the self which cannot be destroyed. This is the self which does not have the divisions we place on people – race, gender, social status, religion, etc. It is the self which is in Christ and which is Christ.
In the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3:1-17), Paul gives us this spiritual interpretation of the Easter story. He describes a Christian as someone who has put to death their old self with its lies and anger and greed. Paul says that since we have been raised with Christ we are now to put on the ways of our new selves, the selves which are free from labels and which are truly Christ who is our life.
Since our false selves have been crucified with Christ our true selves also are resurrected with him. This new self, as Paul calls it, is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. See how Paul says renewed, not actually created from scratch but restored. Even though Paul calls it the new self he is clearly saying that we are shedding what is false to uncover the image of Christ, our creator, which is in all of us.
The ways of the old self, or the false self, are the ways of idolatry. But Paul is very clear here that what he is considering idolatry is greed, lust, and evil desires. The false self which must be crucified is the self which worships false desires. The self which is concerned with the accumulation of wealth, with an unhealthy need for sexual conquest, with rage and self righteous anger, with slander and gossip. These desires come from the ego, the false self, the old self.
In contrast, the true self, the new self which is resurrected with Christ, is one which does not have selfish and unhealthy desires. The true self is clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It does not worship the idols mentioned above but instead it’s desires are continually transformed into the image of Christ our creator. We, therefore, forgive as Christ has forgiven. We love as Christ has loved. We allow peace to rule in our hearts and we accept death as Christ has accepted death.
And so seek the cross, my dear sisters and brothers. Seek the death of the old self. For until we have truly died we will never truly live. Those who try to save their lives will lose it. If you cling to your false self – to your job title, your culture, your bank account, your resentments, your unhealthy sexual obsessions, your need to gossip about others – then Easter will have no meaning for you.
But, if you lose your life for Christ’s sake you will be remade in the image of your creator and you will be an Easter people.
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