“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4
My personal paradigm for life is identification with the Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. I see each affliction, difficult relationship, and painful circumstance in my life as an opportunity to identify with Christ in the cross. I see every season of my life spent in waiting or in rest as an opportunity to identify with Christ in burial. I see every victory that God gives me as an experience of resurrection. And, when God gives me sustained progress in something or a pattern of victory in my life, I see that as walking in newness of life. My mental process for dealing with life centers on the cross of Christ. To me the Christian is by definition a parable of Christ, and her life, an analogy of the glory of God expressed in the power of the cross.
This all started about 10 years ago when the Lord began to a healing work in my soul. After, living in denial for my entire adult life that the abuse in my past had any affect on me, I sensed the Lord prompting me to take a closer look at what had happened in the abuse of my younger years. But, having grown up in a home where I was bottle fed Sigmund Freud and spoon fed Carl Jung; I was not very happy about the prospect of counseling. However, I was extremely zealous for God and very much desired to do what I thought He was prompting me to do. SO, after much prayer (and a lot more prompting from the Holy Spirit), I looked for a good Christian counselor and got busy trying to figure out what was the matter with me. I wanted to understand why it was that I felt depressed; why I was having such difficulty being vulnerable and meek; and why I was having an increasingly difficult time connecting with people (relationally and emotionally). I mostly wanted to understand why I did not have the abundant life which Christ promised that His followers would have.
After about three years of counseling with a professional Christian counselor, I had learned a lot about myself and my past, but I came to the conclusion that therapy had brought me as far as it was going to bring me. I understood what had happened, I understood that it was wrong, and I began to understand that the abuse had permanently impacted me. I guess, I just realized that my past was not going away; it was seriously messed up; and I wasn’t doing that great either. At the same time, I was trying to reconcile these conclusions with the truth of the Gospel – that in Christ I was a new creation. Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). The problem was I did not feel like my past had passed, or that the new me was very new at all. As I prayed about these seemingly contradictory realities, I realized that I needed to put the past on the cross with Christ, and by faith appropriate His resurrection life to overcome the soul-deadening effects that the abuse had on me. I started to identify the “deaths” in my soul, with the death of Christ on His cross. For example, He was betrayed with a kiss; I was betrayed with a kiss. He felt forsaken; I felt forsaken. He felt the filth of the sins of other people upon His soul; I had felt the filth of the sins of one other person on my soul, etc., etc . Through this process, I began to fellowship with Christ on the cross.
For me, this was the beginning of experiencing the power of resurrection for walking in newness of life. When God began to resurrect what was dead in me – through this type of intentional and conscious fellowship with Christ in the cross – I began to experience in real-time the powerful reality of the doctrine of my union with Christ. I guess; it was then that I began to live in the Biblical truth that “…all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death… …We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). It was at this time in my life that all of Paul’s seemingly enigmatic statements about having been crucified with Christ, and having fellowship with Him in His sufferings, and filling up those afflictions that were lacking in His body, started to make sense to me. Identification with Christ on His cross was no longer an abstract, theological statement to me, it had become… Well, I guess that it was then that it became my paradigm for life.