Greetings everyone. Rob here.
Following Jesus in this world is a bit like swimming against the tide with the wind at your back. I choose those contradictory and almost nonsensical images deliberately. There is an energy that comes from the Spirit as we give ourselves over to Jesus and the mission of God. But there is an energy that’s going in the opposite direction and it’s powerful. It wants to sweep us along and take us with it. The temptation is to knuckle down, swim harder, fight harder and there is a steadfastness and a determination that we need in this world. But if we rely on just determination it will wilt and falter eventually. I repeat, the forces flowing against our walk with Jesus are powerful. To make it requires the energy of God and all the resources of the kingdom of God. It requires the river of life that no tide can stop and no force can hold back.
I’ve been thinking about these forces that work against us. I think of them as swirling forces trying to keep us stuck through confusion, contradiction and sensory overload. The one thing that they have in common is that they try and make you the centre of the story, not God. Think of the work story in today’s world. On the one hand there is the narrative that we just need to find and follow our passions and all will be well. The other narrative is that you should be passionate already and ready to do whatever it takes to succeed and help the organisation you’re working for succeed. Lying underneath those two stories is the one of mental and emotional health and how we need to take care of ourselves these days. The overall theme is one that says: You can have it all! Except you can’t. We were never meant to and trying to have it all creates a cost that cannot be paid. I’m reminded of Jesus.
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36)
The magazines, the ads, the TV shows all paint the same picture that we can have it all. The reality is we can’t all live by the ocean. We can’t all create picture perfect meals/gardens/interiors/relationships. We can’t simultaneously work really hard in our passions and have a lot of free time for all our other passions. Scripture tells us that if you want to have the world you will lose your soul. Jesus instead offers us something far different:
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35)
It’s not about you or me. It’s about Jesus and the good news (the gospel) of the kingdom of God. If you want that then you have to give your life over to him. He is your life and he has to become your life so we lose our life for his sake. That’s the beautiful paradox at the heart of the gospel. If you want life, die to it. If you want to find your passion, find out what God’s passion is. If you want success, significance, purpose and meaning, stop hustling and start surrendering. Bow the knee and God will raise you up.
I say all this as a matter of urgency. The swirling contradictions of the world, the flesh and the devil are extracting a high price. People are going down. They’re tired, stressed, depressed and anxious. The best witness to God’s love in a world like this people who are deeply immersed in it and living it out as surrendered followers of Jesus who have handed their lives over to him. I want that to be me. May iy be you also.
Grace and peace.