Friday, January 27, 2012

Becoming Christ-like

Discipleship is about becoming like Jesus.  This involves learning to do the things that Jesus did: that is why he sent out his disciples with power and authority to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, and to illustrate it by healing the sick, driving out demons, and even raising the dead.  But it also involves learning to live in the way Jesus did: concerned with being, not simply doing.  Indeed, this is extremely important, partly because doing flows out of being, and if our being is conflicted or compromised, what we do will be conflicted or compromised; and partly because there will be times when we are simply not able to do – times when we are laid low by long-term illness, for example, or where we find ourselves in a faithless context (even Jesus himself could do almost nothing in Nazareth, so why should it be any different for us?) – and only by attending to being will we know that our identity is not diminished by such constraints.

So, how did Jesus live life?  Here is a man who asked God to forgive those who had had him flayed and nailed to a scaffold to die.  Here is a man whom we see repeatedly disappointed and frustrated at his followers and those who opposed him alike failing to see what was so clear to him...and yet he was not misshaped by disappointment or frustration.  The only possible explanation is that he chose to look on followers and opponents alike with uncompromising love, and ruthless forgiveness.

It is inevitable that as we hold out that for which Christ has taken hold of us, as we look to freely give what we have been freely given, as we seek to see God’s transforming kingdom break-in to our present experience, that we will also experience the disappointment and frustration of those who are open to us and those who set themselves against us alike failing to see what is so clear to us.  And if we see them ‘horizontally’ we will turn it into a battle of wills which will only serve to further tie-up both them and ourselves.  But if we see them ‘vertically,’ with uncompromising love and ruthless forgiveness, we will engage in a battle which will serve to further free both them and ourselves (who, however clearly we might see, still only see as in the reflection of highly-polished bronze).

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