The gospel is a sword that is meant to go all the way into you, all the way through you, but many Christians, many in the church assume that because it has gone half way in, that is good enough. They understand; they get it. But Jesus said you cannot live unless you have died. You cannot live unless you have fully died. The sword has to go all the way in, all the way through and stick out your back.
The ministry of Jesus was to a nation full of these half-dead zombies. They went through the motions of being alive. They said their prayers, they quoted Bible verses, they attended services, but the way you could tell they still needed to fully die is the way they treated their brothers and sisters, their children, their husbands and wives, their neighbors, the poor, the strangers, their enemies. Because they were doing what every zombie does: feeding on other people. You do this when you hate your brother in your heart, when you harbor bitterness toward your spouse, when you are harsh with your children, when you are stingy towards the needs of others, when you sit there stewing in a selfish pity party whining about your life, complaining about what you haven’t gotten or envying what others have. You are stealing life. You are feeding on other people. You are only half-dead.
But when the gospel strikes you, when it pierces your heart and comes out the other side that old way of life dies. You die. And then somehow, miraculously, you live, but you shouldn’t be alive. You’re alive from the dead. You’re forgiven. You’re loved. You’re washed clean. You’re set free. And you gasp, and clean, cool air rushes into your lungs and you laugh because the air tastes good. And tears run down your cheeks, tears of happiness, tears of thankfulness. You see, when Jesus strikes you down with His love, when the sword of His mouth pierces all the way through, you become a life-giver. When harsh words come and attack you, lying about you, you have love for your enemy. When you are tired, and your children are difficult, you have grace, miraculous grace. When your own spouse is critical, you return good for evil, a gentle answer, the grace of life.