Wednesday, March 6, 2013


A friend sent me this quote a few days ago:

Jesus' compassion is characterized by a downward pull. That is what disturbs us. We cannot even think about ourselves in terms other than those of an upward pull, an upward mobility in which we strive for better lives, higher salaries and more prestigious positions. Thus, we are deeply disturbed by a God who embodies a downward movement. Instead of striving for a higher position, more power and more influence, Jesus moves, as Karl Barth says, from "the heights to the depths, from victory to defeat, from riches to poverty, from triumph to suffering, from life to death."  Henri Nowen, et al. The Downward Pull
It's perfect.  Only I don't want it to be perfect. I want it to be wrong.  Completely wrong.  But Jesus himself says it over and over; a kernel of wheat has to die, you must take up your cross, etc.

Only here's the catch.  I can't even trust myself on what it means to die.
God, who searches the hearts of men, knows that most of the things that are done with other pretenses in the world are nothing but the actings of men mad and furious in the pursuit of their lusts.  John Owen, The Power and Efficacy of Indwelling Sin
We can all point to other people who have gone on holy crusades of entering ministry, working with the poor, or going crazy with each and every particular religious trend in an attempt to get closer to God.  Even the best of intentions become an idol of self-worship.  Although I find it easy to point out in others, the real trick is rooting it out in my own heart.  I mean, I can't even set out to go lower without getting all caught up in how awesome I am and how much God must love me for being so willing to die to self.  I may set out with the best of intentions, but this festering heart of sin transforms my desire to die to self into a crusade for my own self-exaltation.


What is a girl to do?

Sheesh.  If I had the answer to that question, I'd go on TV and sell it for a lot of money.  Well, not really, but I'm sure I'd do something equally ridiculous.

I suspect the answer has something to do with loving your neighbor.  Another thing I don't want to hear about, by the way, because I'm particularly lousy at it.  I was at a study this weekend where we were talking about love.  And the discussion opened up with brainstorming a time when someone had loved you well.  From there we teased out characteristics of real love, and the words self-less and humble kept coming up.  Turns out, according to 1 John, I can actually know how well I'm loving God by how well I'm loving my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But even loving and serving those around me can become an agenda to make myself feel better, and then I'm back where I started.  As it turns out, people aren't very cooperative when you're trying to serve them from your own agenda, and suddenly I end up wondering why I ever thought I liked people to begin with.  Then God asks if that's how I feel about him, and I'm caught.


My new answer is starting with prayer.  I'm 24 hours into a prayer I hope will last the rest of my life, a prayer to "go lower."  If I knew what that meant, I wouldn't have to pray it.  Honestly, I'm not all that excited about finding out.  But I suspect God is waiting there for me, and having once tasted his love and mercy, there's nothing else I could ever find satisfying.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. You made me myself. (okay, maybe it was only a smile...but that is certainly better than tears, huh?) I really needed that today.