Rob here. God has been speaking to my heart through a fresh voice these last two weeks; Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Wrecking Ball (this is not a review though!). I know, I’m a Springsteen fanatic and I was always going to enjoy the album. But, as I listened to these songs of righteous anger, fierce hope and prophetic power (not just my words; check here for a review that looks at the theology of Wrecking Ball!) my heart wept, soared, worshipped and repented. I felt the injustices of the world deeply, but the hope of Jesus profoundly.
John Eldredge writes, “Christianity has nothing to say to the person who is completely happy with the way things are. Its message is for those who hunger and thirst – for those who desire life as it was meant to be (Desire, p.47).” Jesus puts it like this, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).” The word for righteousness can also be translated justice (see the NLT). There is a divine restlessness that accompanies our desire for the kingdom of God; for holiness; for life in all its fullness. It’s the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom equation. It has been initiated by Jesus but it is not yet finished; the Spirit has come but only as a deposit; Satan has lost the war but the battle still rages and evil is still rampant.
Now I know that Paul wrote that he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 3:11),” but that was not because he no longer felt the injustices and the pain of the world. It was because he had learned that “I can do all this through him who gives me strength (v.13).” We are called to learn the same thing. Christ lives in us and it’s his life that we need. We need his eyes, his ears, his mind and his heart. Remember that he wept over Jerusalem; he wept over Lazarus’ tomb and “a deep anger welled up within him (John 11:33)”; he restored a widow’s son to life because “his heart went out to her (Luke 7:13).” There’s a holy discontent that dwells within Jesus that leads to holy love-in-action. I know that so often I am “loving” out of my own resources (or lack of) and asking Jesus to bless what I am doing. I then “fade out”. I just get tired, cynical and apathetic; too tired for justice, for love-in-action, for compassion, grace and mercy. I become self-protective, self-serving and ultimately self-defeating because there’s no life in me. There’s onlylife in Jesus. I need his life in me.
Eldredge again: “Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence and life within you (Beautiful Outlaw, p.207).” I love that! So my prayers are changing. I now say “I love you Jesus. Fill me with your life today.” I’m sensing a change within me as I do that. Part of that change is shown when I allow Jesus to speak to me through a Springsteen album and hear his heart reflected in the music and lyrics. It’s shown when I apologise to my wife for not pursuing her heart the way that I want to and making time for that. It’s also shown when I react more calmly to my children’s tantrums and sheer loudness! It’s also a work in progress. For Jesus’ life to fill mine I have to die to my own: to my love of convenience; to my apathy and passivity; to my want for an easy life and on it goes.
With desperation I pray with Eldredge; “Jesus, invade my life. Cleanse this temple…I give my humanity to you, to be restored by your humanity. I give my life to you to live your life (Outlaw, 210).”
Now let’s hear from The Boss!