Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 25th

Here's some other stuff I've been thinking about lately. This is actually what I was going to blog about, but I got temporarily side tracked by that other blog.

Growing up, I absorbed a lot of teaching about the importance of remaining separate from the world. I understood this to mean that I should never participate in pop culture.

I believe this type of thinking is fairly common to the traditional Christian experience. Unfortunately, in my case, it led to fear, arrogance and isolationism.

As I hit my early twenties, I questioned and discarded this whole line of thinking.

For one thing, I was already completely tainted by the world, so there was now no more hope for me.

Guilt and despair aside, I thought then that it was an unproductive doctrine based on fear.

I wanted to engage life, not hide from it, and I hoped that this authenticity, even with its scars, would be a better witness than the false front I had hidden behind earlier in my life.

Now, however, it seems that I have come almost full circle.

"If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. You do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world and the world hates you," Jesus says, in John 15:19

This may explain why I have been feeling as I have- I am feeling the reality of not being a part of this world.

But I no longer believe that "the world" refers to pop culture, or any culture at all.

I think now that it's a spiritual reality, not a physical reality.

"I have been crucified with Christ," Paul declares, Galatians 2:20, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

We don't live in the world, because we live in Christ. The life of Christ in us is what sets us apart, sets us free from sin and is the promise of greater things to come.

That way, we are in the world, but not of the world.

Still, I wrestle with this. My heart doesn't lie here, but how does it serve Jesus, or others, if I spend my entire life longing for some place I'm not?

I know He said that anyone who does not hate his own life is not worthy of Him, but surely He doesn't mean that literally?

Didn't Jesus come to give us life, and that more abundantly?

I was thinking about this, and it occurred to me that maybe it's our former life that we hate- the dead in our own works and lost in the dark life.

And why wouldn't we hate that life? It's a miserable way to live.

We cast that away -we lose our life- and we follow Jesus, and He gives us His life, abundantly. Along with, surprise, a fair amount of sorrow and suffering.

When I first was reading through the gospels, I noticed how many times Jesus talked about staying awake, and watching.

At one point as I was reading along, I felt Jesus check me at one of those verses.

Staying awake is not the same as staying afraid, Jesus said.

And oh my goodness! I realized that I had been doing that. Every time He said to stay awake or to watch, I myself was reading be afraid, be very afraid!

Obedient to my own incorrect interpretation, each time I read such a verse or parable, fear and dread would fill my heart.

"Well, if it doesn't mean stay afraid, what does it mean?" I asked Jesus.

But He didn't answer me then.

Now, I am wondering if maybe staying awake is to be full of longing for Jesus while at the same time, alive in His Spirit where He has planted us- here and now, in the world.

That definitely requires us to stay awake. It is impossible to live like that on autopilot.

In fact, it's impossible to live like that at all, without Him living in us.