“If we are entangled with ourselves, we have no peace. If we are entangled with the world, we have no peace. Only the disentangled can have peace; and death with Christ does the disentangling, and resurrection with Christ leads to a life above the world and above ourselves.” T. Austin-Sparks
Just recently I attended my brother’s wedding in Southern California. During my stay in Southern California, my wallet was stolen. All of my credit/debit cards, forms of identification (except passport), and a little cash was in that wallet. The thief immediately tried to use my debit cards but was only able to use one card to purchase fifty dollars worth of groceries at a nearby supermarket.
Of course, I had to call my banks, order a new drivers license, etc. But the point of this article is not that I lost my wallet. I had a very interesting experience a few days later at a local shopping mall.
Disentangled from the World System
As I wandered through the mall I suddenly realized that I had absolutely no money and no way to get money. I had no wallet! Oh, the irony of that moment. Here I am walking through a haven of merchandising and I have no identity, no plastic, and no cash! But at that moment I realized more vividly than ever before that I was not a part of that system. In fact, I was totally dead to that system.
“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
It actually freed me up to a higher level of understanding and experience than anything I had experienced before. Even though I may have appeared to be just another “mall rat,” in reality, I was seated with Christ in heavenly places. I was walking through that mall in a complete state of “disentanglement.” The economic system had no control over me. And I felt like a bird set free.
However, I also became more keenly aware that I was a part of another “system.” This system is not an organization or a culture or anything political or of this world in any sense. This “system” is actually a living organism. It is really not an “it” at all. I am referring to the vast organic order of Christ Himself! He is God’s order and arrangement of all of His thoughts, visions, and purposes. This “system” is what Paul referred to as being “according to Christ” (Ro. 15:5).
Disentanglement from the Self System
Even though I realized that day at the mall that I was truly not a part of that system of materialism, consumerism, selfishness, and greed; I also saw in a deeper way that I have been set free from the “self-system” as well. That is my old man was crucified with Christ (Ro. 6:11). Now, it’s no longer about me and my world, but rather it’s about Christ and His Church! I am truly dead to myself but alive to God and His eternal purpose. It’s no longer me and my agenda, but it is God and His agenda. And His only agenda is Christ! That is, the full, whole Christ; Head and body, Vine and branches, Shepherd and sheep, Cornerstone and living stones, Wine and wineskin, Grain of wheat with the many grains, Bridegroom and bride, New Adam and new Eve, the Lamb and His wife.
Set Free to Live a Life Above
Of course, being crucified with Christ is only half of the equation. In order for us to live by His life there had to be a resurrection as well. He was raised so that we too could now walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:4, 5). How is it possible for us to share in His resurrection life? It’s because we were placed inside of Him and He is resurrection! (John 11:25) We have been placed in Him so we share all that He is. Isn’t this wonderful? Isn’t this good news?
Now the reason that we have been raised with Christ is that now we have the glorious opportunity to live by His resurrection life instead of our own human lives. He who is Resurrection now lives inside of you and me so that we can display this wonderful life of God to the world. But the problem is that instead of living by Resurrection, we choose to attempt to please God by our own human lives. This is called religion, and it is of no use to God. In fact, it actually repulses Him.
So how do we live this “above life?” How do we live by Resurrection life instead of human life? The New Testament gives us many hints but Paul very clearly shows us the beginning in Colossians chapter three.
“If therefore you were raised together with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things which are above not on the things which are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).
One of the key principles in learning to live by Christ is to set our minds upon things above. What are those things? They are the riches of Christ Himself! This is a process of God renewing our minds (Col. 3:10) so that we think the “above thoughts.” But notice with me that it all begins by an act of our will: “set your mind.” We move our will into action by turning our thoughts to Christ and focusing on Him. May He become our life as we live this “above life” together!