Rob here. I have spent the last week immersed in John Eldredge’s latest book Beautiful Outlaw. It’s been great! You can tell it’s a great book because you don’t finish it by saying, “John Eldredge is such a great writer,” but rather, ‘Jesus, I love you. I want more of you in my life. Reveal yourself to me.” Any book that gives us that gift is worth reading!
Eldredge writes this: “Your brokenness and your sin are not something you overcome so that you can walk with God. They are the occasions for you to cry out for the life of God in you to rescue you. Not God outside you, up in the sky somewhere. Christ in you, your only hope of glory. Let this sink in: Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence and life within you (Beautiful Outlaw, 207-8).”
Yes! One of the traps of the Christian life is that we try to imitate Christ in our own strength. It’s not only a crazy way of thinking, it’s also impossible. It can’t be done! We can create the illusion of holiness for awhile but we can’t sustain it because there’s no life in it. Eldredge continues:
“If you have found forgiveness in Christ, thank God. But you are still a branch in desperate need of a Vine. If you have found his morality, wonderful. But you can’t hope to pull it off without his life. If you have found inspiration in Christ, rejoice. But it will last two days without his life. ‘Our only task,’ said Oswald Chambers, ‘is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it (208).'”
Jesus told us this in John 15:4-5, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (TNIV).”
The question on all our lips by this point is how? How do we become more aware of Christ in us; more aware of his loving presence; more aware of his life filling our life? We know its about surrender, worship, prayer and obedience. But what does that look like for you? As Eldredge says, “We find those practices that help us receive the life of God. Whether it be prayer, worship, silence, sacrament, or the gift of sunshine, sitting beside a stream, music, adventure – we seek out those things that help us receive the life of God (209).” Ask Jesus to help you find those life-receiving practices. He knows what they are. They are appointments that he’s set up to give more of himself to you.
Ask him if he wants you to read Beautiful Outlaw. It will help you to set Jesus free to be himself with you. Try praying this prayer from the book, “Jesus, I ask you for you. For the real you.” There is no better prayer for us to make.
For more on Beautiful Outlaw visit www.beautifuloutlaw.net.