Death Spiral

Living things grow and change, that’s just a fact of life. It’s perfectly acceptable for a newborn to cry and scream to get their parents’ attention. When a 5 year-old does that, they’re reminded to use their words and are likely scolded for such inappropriate behavior. Can you imagine an adult doing that? If a person wanted attention so badly that they cried and screamed and stamped their feet until they got what they wanted, innocent bystanders would see that person and point and laugh or cross over to the other side of the street to steer clear of the crazy.

We’re supposed to change. We are made to grow. 

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul begins explaining to the Corinthian church about the resurrection and what an incredible day that will be. Then, he finishes the chapter with this wonderful crescendo:

Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

This is an awesome passage! I love how Paul so clearly depicts what we will experience, putting our current situation, trials, and troubles into perspective. But, I wonder if these verses can be applied to more than just physical death.

Have you ever met someone who was just stuck in a rut? One of those people who seemed to be dealing with the same issues over and over again no matter how many times they prayed or said they were going to change? I have too. In fact, in some areas I am that person. What if that’s a form of “death”?

Now, stick with me here. I haven’t fully formulated my thoughts, and this post will include some stream of consciousness writing, but I think I could be onto an interesting track here. If change and growth (or expansion) is a sign of life, then wouldn’t the converse be true? Stagnation and atrophy are signs of death. When a body of water is stagnant, it is a perfect opportunity for bacteria and fungi to grow. If a limb isn’t moved for a time, the muscles begin to atrophy or waste away. If we, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually, are continuing to deal with the same things in the same way over and over again, that area could be like that bacteria-filled pond or that shriveled muscle. That area could be ruled by death.

There’s a lie permeating our culture that we can’t change. But that thought-process couldn’t be further from the truth. Without Christ, when we’re ruled by our flesh and sin (death), sure, we can’t change. But, with Christ, we are new creations. Sin and death no longer lords over us, ruling over each and every thought or action. With Christ we have the ability to change. We can grow. We can expand into who he has called us to be.

We no longer have to be victims to life because we are victors in Christ. Accept that title, put on that mantle, and let’s change some things. Let’s be a people committed to saying “no” to the death spiral, and embrace the life He has for each of us. I’m challenging myself to look at those stagnant areas of my life and invite Christ’s life and light into them. Are you willing to join me?

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