Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Raise the Christ

 If any of you come to me without hating your own father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters and even your own life, you cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:26

This sounds astonishingly harsh and actually inconsistent with the rest of biblical text,  and I can understand that Jesus wants us to place the whole of our life in proper priority with Him as the head, the driving force of life.  It's not that we lessen the value of relationships and life, but that we raise Christ and follow Him to an even greater status than all the rest.  To elevate the value of Christ and Christ-likeness to a higher place comparatively to what we already hold dear is to esteem Him all the more.  If we lessen significant relationships, we actually lessen the Christ position in us.

Greater love of earthly relationships should drive us to greater love of Jesus.

My example is in my relationship with my children.  When I am in closeness with them, I think, "Lord, you love us more than this.  You delight and desire my attention more than I do with them."

When the children are difficult or wayward, the same prayer thought comes, "You put up with us like this, too.  We fail you, take paths away from your presence.  Your heart is more broken than mine by this absence."  It always leads me to my own repentance and desire to pursue Jesus.

Don't negate the vehicle of earth-bound relationships, but ride them to greater intimacy with Jesus.  

Saturday, May 15, 2021


Matthew 6:25-34 (sections thereof) Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life - what you eat or drink - or your body - what you will wear.  Is your life more than food and body more than clothes?

(Living is more than eating and the body more than dressing up. The Voice)

But seek first his (God's) kingdom and his righteousness and these things (life needs) will be given to you as well. 

Jesus is appealing us to put our lives in order, placing our priorities in life under the umbrella of God's kingdom.  His use of certain words emphasizes this prioritizing.  When he says "seek" - zeteo - he is intoning a serious pursuit of a goal.  It means to strive in a goal-oriented way.  And, of course, he highlights God's kingdom as the goal, indicating God's overall and encompassing authority over our lives.

But not just the kingdom, but its righteousness - it's rightness.  Diakino is that righteousness, indicating a condition acceptable to God.  It means to be "right," as God intended for us. This correctness of character is to be a pursuit of thinking, feeling and acting.  It is to be as we should be, in general, and, specifically, in relationship to God.  When I seek righteousness, then my true self, my God-intended self would be developed and completed in me.  If righteousness in character, then this pursuit is identity formation.

What a statement to make:  "I am becoming righteous." (as I should be.) Yet it must be true because righteous living will come no other way.  (A good tree bears good fruit.)

All this time, we have been trying to go by the rules when the rules cause nothing in us.  At most, they are checkpoints along the way;  maybe more like safeguards for a free field of play.  

Because Christ is my righteousness-giver and my righteousness-model, he is the solution for my identity change.  Who am I?  What is Christ in me?  Christ alone.  Christ, author and finisher of my faith.  Every question I have about my pursuits should be turned towards Christ-influence of those pursuits.  I can only operate in pursuit of the kingdom by me finally getting "right," deep into my center.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Entirely Ready

There is an endless set of verses in the Old Testament and New on readiness.  In the Old Testament, the verses revolve around being ready for battle, the scribe's pen being ready, and being ready to do the king's bidding.  

In the New Testament,  Jesus expands the usage to be readiness for God and the coming Kingdom.  Paul bemoans people's lack of readiness for the "meat" of spiritual learning.  Readiness for advancing the kingdom and its work is prevelant.

In the Twelve Steps, in addition, I find another powerful admonition:  "Be entirely ready..."  Be entirely ready to have God remove all defects of character.  Am I ready to remove all the blocks which keep me not only from healing, but those which keep me from all the biblical directives to receive and transmit the Kingdom of God?  Can I acknowledge and own them?  Can I remove them?

To me, that means to prepare the environment of my soul to let the Holy Spirit have it to do her work.   I can allow contentment to grow in such a way that there is room only for the Holy Spirit and her presence, as preparing for a guest.  I can unclutter it of resentments, worry, projection, sinful anger, and wrong expectations of God and myself. It also means that no other earthly satisfaction will suffice.

How else can I be ready for subsequent faithful action if my soul is not prepared?  I think about Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she said, "let it be to me according to your word."  She was entirely ready.  

I want to be, also.