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Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Grateful Dead

Most of you know this, but for those who don't, the Grateful Dead was a cult-favorite rock band formed in 1965 with a devoted fan base known as "Deadheads" and headed by Jerry Garcia whose death in 1995 led to the ultimate disbanding of the band. This isn't about them.

As the pastor was preaching about Christ's death and resurrection, its effects, and its ramifications, I got to thinking. (I know ... typically a dangerous thing.) The Christian life is described in multiple places as death. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt 16:24). Paul said, "I die daily" (1 Cor 15:31). Peter said, "Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18). We are to "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you" (Col 3:5). Paul wrote, "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Rom 8:13). In a beautiful explanation of the imagery of baptism, Paul wrote,
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. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. (Rom 6:3-5)
Christianity, at its core, links the believer's life with Christ's death and life (in that order). "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

In a very real sense, then, aren't we supposed to be the grateful dead? We were dead in sin (Eph 2:1-3). And aren't we supposed to be dead to sin (Rom 6:6-7, 11)? Paul told the Corinthians
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:14-17)
Death in Christ and death to self results in new life. Death for us is victory. Aren't we, really, the grateful dead in that sense? (See? I told you it was typically dangerous when I get to thinking.)

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