October 6 – Matthew 16:24

There’s a scene in Fight Club in which Brad Pitt’s character explains to Edward Norton’s that if he wants to be free, he has to give up the things he holds most dear. “First you have to give up,” he says. “You have to know—not fear, know—that someday, you’re gonna die.” To drive his point home, he burns Norton’s hand with lye, to show him the weakness of his body. Pitt might be crazy, but he’s also right. This is the first step to freedom—to know that the road of the cross leads to Calvary. He goes on: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” We resist. “Lose everything? Deny myself?” we protest. “But that’ll mean weakness … and death. That’ll be the end of me!” The somethings we hold on to, the things we imagine are keeping us alive, are the very things that are killing us. The things we own end up owning us. Ed Norton puts our greatest fear into words: “You don’t know how this feels!” We cry so to God, “You rip my desires, my hopes, my dreams—my life!—away from me. You don’t know how this feels!” Brad Pitt holds up his hand, with an identical lye burn scar, proving to the faithless that he’s been here before. Like Thomas, converted by the wounds of the risen Christ, Norton is converted by Brad Pitt’s wounds. He has passed this test. He has carried this cross. Jesus Christ has borne His cross so that death can be not just an end for the old us, but a beginning for the new us. Christ died so that we might live. He died, and we died with Him (Gal. 2:20), so that now we can be free. We have to know, not suspect, the reality of the cross. It is only then that we can really be free. The good news is, in those moments when you feel as if God is killing you, He is. But He’s killing you to make you alive. Behold, says Jesus, the old has passed away. The new has come.

Tchividjian, Tullian; Lannon, Nick. It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News