Often I am impressed by actors/actresses who can play dead. For example, Crime Scene Investigation television actors who lay on an autopsy table; movie actresses who peacefully lay in a coffin during a funeral scene; Broadway singers portraying death even with all the musical drama going on around them. Appears so real, but nonetheless, they are playing dead.
As a child, I remember learning about death and at times playing dead by laying still with my eyes closed and unresponsive to others. Although I attempted to play the part of being dead, I was easily distracted from the role. All it took was someone saying a funny comment, tickling me or offering me ice cream; then sure enough, I was alive! There were the times when I played dead but had just enough life to answer a question about what I was doing. I whispered, “I’m dead.” I tried to peek through my eye lids, but people saw my eyes through the cracks; thus, I lost the Oscar. Needless to say, I would not have made it in Hollywood or Broadway.
Most people understand the defining physical characteristics of being dead, so I find the christian scriptures’ teaching on being “dead to sin” interesting and worthy of discussion.
God is holy, morally excellent, perfect in every way and set apart from all sin, evil, iniquity, unrighteousness. Sin was never a God problem, and it never directly effected Him or had power or dominion over Him. When sin entered the world, it had a devastating effect on his beloved creation, and thus sin became a human problem. For the first time humans experienced separation from God, a spiritual death, and the eventual physical death. Although God was set apart form sin and sinful humanity, he intervened because of his great love. Therefore, He went to work on His mysterious yet wonderful plan of salvation.
He established that an unblemished life was to be sacrificed for the cleansing of sin. Animals were used in the beginning, but they were pointing to someone else. Someone who would be the ultimate sacrifice. Someone who is sinless but would die for the sinful. At the pinnacle of his intervention, God showed up with his own final sacrifice for sin-Himself! God became a man. Jesus was God. The God-Man gave his life for humanity. Jesus took upon himself the totality of sin and was beaten and crucified to death. A real death, beyond merely playing a part in a drama. Humanity was dead to God, and Jesus died to sin. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection to life, humanity is alive to God and dead to sin. Death is an awesome thing when it is sin to which one has died.
A physical body, once it is dead makes no response to its environment. It is immovable towards ice cream. No distractions. No explanations. No peaking through the eye lids. Dead is dead is dead. Jesus followers are to have the same death characteristics in response to the promptings of sin. Yet to often we only play the part and thus get distracted and again become ensnared by sin. How do we stop the acting? How do we live while being dead to sin?
We died with Jesus and we were resurrected with Jesus and shall live the resurrection life with Jesus. May we daily experience the freedom we have in being dead to sin and alive to God.