There is a scene in the movie The Princess Bride where the grumpy magician Miracle Max revives the Man in Black. (Remember that one? Classic.) His friends think he’s dead, but Miracle Max says, “Turns out your friend here is only Mostly Dead. And Mostly Dead means he’s slightly Alive!”
One of the central principles of the Christian faith is dying to yourself. We are instructed to die to our sinful desires, to take off the “old man” and put on the “new man”, to identify with the death of Christ through baptism, to be dead to ourself. Dead to ourself but alive to Christ. Just as Christ rose from the dead, we too rise from the waters of baptism with a new Master in our lives. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Romans 6:11 says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” So we are the Living Dead.
But here I have to confess that much of the time I am kind of half-hearted about this dying to myself thing. I’m reluctantly Living Dead. OK, most of the time I’m just Mostly Dead, which means I’m slightly Alive. I’ve heard it said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar. Yes, that’s true of me. My sinful desires are slippery and hard to nail down. My own motives are hidden in the dark, unexplored corners of my heart. And if I’m truly honest with myself, I don’t want those corners illuminated and mapped. I’d rather keep a part of myself instead of giving my all to Jesus.
Living Dead is hard. It’s a daily dying and most days I don’t die well. I put up a fight. Some days I’m just tired of the fight and that’s the only reason I die on that day. Those are the days when I collapse in a heap at the foot of the cross and only have the strength to weep soul tears and whisper a one word prayer, Oh Jesus! This Living Dead thing is wretchedly hard.
I’d like to give you a nice perky ending here, but then you’d know I was being a fake. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s much easier to be a sinner than a saint. But here’s where my faith picks me up out of my despairing heap and sets me back on my dead feet again. I know that someday it will all be worth it. I’m keeping Jesus in my sights and the hope of Heaven as my promissory note. One day it will be worth it all when I see Jesus face to face.
“We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?… We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:1-11