attention on Christ

We who follow Jesus can get quite caught up in godly and gifted persons in the church. We can even get caught up at times in God’s work in our own lives in such a way that we may think ourselves as special in a way that we’re not. There is always such a tension here, because in a sense we in Jesus are all gifts from God through Jesus by the Spirit, and we can and do take delight in God’s people. But we also know that all is a gift from God, that everything is of grace in and through Christ, that all the glory (and here, etc.) certainly goes to him. That strictly speaking, in and of ourselves we are always beggars, always in need of Christ. At the same time, being clothed with Christ in baptism, we are one with him, and becoming more and more like him, as well as gifted by the Spirit for good works for Christ’s body- the church and for the world.

The older I get the more I know that it is not about me, or because of me. It is about Christ; he is the theme: the way and the truth and the life. By faith we are taken up into him, and we enjoy that. But we’re like little children finding our way in all the Father’s gifts and gifting. It is a God-breathed existence, full of God’s love.

And so if our attention is ever turned in on ourselves as if we are the source of anything, then we’re off track, and we will (hopefully) figure that out soon enough. We do live in God’s love, a love from which we both love God and others in and through Christ.

stripped and bare

Ordinarily when I serve at the nursing home in leading a service I have a sense of the Lord’s help. But yesterday I felt left, stripped and bare, and seemingly on my own. And yet the Lord was present to be sure. It was a let down, being Easter Sunday. I can’t manufacture a good program, or coming across well, or whatever. The Lord has to be the one who moves us and helps us, often if not always in spite of ourselves, in his grace.

I felt stripped and bare so to speak. And as I’ve often told Deb, I would not want to keep doing that kind of ministry, in fact I would not- I think, if I had that same sense every week. Having just departed from Lent, that tradition has the value among other things of helping us to see more of the truth of what our Lord did for us in love, in its bearing in all things throughout the year. And I couldn’t help but think of our Lord allegedly being stripped and bare at the cross, humiliated and forsaken so to speak by God to that fate.

Stripped and bare. We don’t like that. It is shameful to us. And yet I wonder what good can come out from it.

Certainly humility as we know by experience what we already know full well in our minds that we are nothing at all in and of ourselves. And that apart from Jesus, as he tells us in the passage about him as the vine and we as the branches, we can do nothing.

Also our need of being clothed with the Lord Jesus. We need God to clothe us. In that clothing we are actually being changed from glory to glory. It is akin to the glory in which Adam and Eve were clothed in the garden prior to the Fall, according to theologians. They had no sense of their nakedness, though I see it as they were transparent and had nothing to hide because of sin since they were innocent, so that they were unashamed to be fully exposed. But we know that changed.

And yet our life is not just our own. For us to realize our own full humanity in its uniqueness in ourselves, as well as participation with others we need to find that Christ is indeed our life. That Christ is our all. That we need him in every part of our being. Think inward being or nature now, as the outward transformation, that is of our bodies, awaits the resurrection to come.

Stripped and bare. I dislike it. And yet I want to learn from it. Hopefully in fellowship with our Lord in his sufferings. Together with others in him for the world.