Jesus tells us that if we want to come after him we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross. The way to find yourself is to lose yourself. This is the IMPOSSIBLE call of the Christian faith.
Culture almost dictates to us that we should find out who we are, that ‘I’ am the most important person in my world, that everything I have, want and desire is okay because ‘I’ feel better, ‘I’ am made complete if I have them.
Culture teaches us to be self-aware, to be self-taught, to enjoy self-discovery, to learn self-help, to become self-absorbed even, to see God in all that you do and that YOU have all you need within you to live a successful life. Rather than challenge this thinking, maybe the Church has at times encouraged this.
Then you read the words of Jesus. ‘Lay down your life’. ‘Lose yourself’. ‘Die to yourself’. ‘Pick up your cross’. ‘Follow me.’ Is it any wonder that many choose not to. This is a tough call. Not just difficult – IMPOSSIBLE. In his book, Simply Christian, Tom Wright states that ‘the only way for us to live this life is to draw strength from beyond ourselves, the strength of God’s Spirit’.
This was the crescendo for me as I read Simply Christian. Slow at first but then increasing in momentum has the challenge to ‘reflect the image’ was laid out, thoughtfully but with enough of a push to make you feel uncomfortable about how you walk with God.
Loved the image of living in the overlap, the place where heaven and earth interlock. Every time we pray, take communion, worship, read the Bible, bringing all that God has done for us into the present. Walking in this reality makes us effective for God I’m sure, led by the Spirit not by culture or self.
The last page lays it out so convincingly:
‘We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting’.
To take a phrase that we have used recently at Xcel Church – living in the impossible, by the strength God provides, help us to repaint the landscape of Christianity in our worlds, in this region, in our town.
Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.’
It’s time to grow up. Time to grasp a hold of it. To leave behind the brokenness and incompleteness that this world offers and take up our proper role.
This is a recommended read, if you like more to think about, more depth to your knowledge but to still be challenged enough to change how you live the Christian life. Take your time in the reading and you won’t be disappointed. Get your copy here.