The Exhausting Pursuit
June 20, 2012 § 4 Comments
One of Jesus’ statements that seems to fly in the face of logic is found in Matthew 16:25, where He says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” It is brilliant because it flows against the current of our natural instinct toward self-promotion, while at the same time exposing an avenue of hope that we would never readily discover apart from Him.
This week is my denomination’s General Assembly. It is when and where we do the official annual business of the Church, in our little corner of the ecclesiastical universe.
It is also a time of reunion, of forging new friendships, and catching up with old. Seminars are offered with the hope of the betterment of the Church. Some come in order to be interviewed for new positions. Dozens of ministry resource groups set up booths and dole out information along with free shirts, and other things to allure a stop at the table (I tend to live in that shallow world of loving the free ‘stuff’).
And then there is the Assembly – a time of sometimes-endless debate, longwinded speeches, important votes and agency reports. It’s all part of the narrative of how a large body functions.
But there is more…
Something else happens this week, and it is ugly. It is also a week when egos are on display – where we are tempted, as pastors, to overstate our success and hide our struggles. There is no enterprise or profession immune to the lie that says that our value is determined by measurables and appearances. To show weakness is risky. To admit weakness is damnable.
I wish I knew this solely on the basis of observation – That I could not recall stories of how my ego drove my words, thoughts and actions. But I can’t.
Any more than you could…
The enterprise of self is a full-time job. We are constantly aware of ourselves, and always on the lookout for opportunities to shine.
But Jesus says, ‘Give it up’ – More to the point – ‘Give you up! Get over yourself and trust me with you.’
If you want to know what I most struggle with every day – it is that. Trusting Jesus with me. I am so prone to make it all about me, that on the most practical and honest of levels, I can talk myself out of believing that He alone is the source of my true worth.
Oh, hey – I have no problem telling you to trust Christ – I believe it – for you. But I have to wrestle with it for me. And my unwillingness to believe that His love and care are enough, sticks me with the never-ending task of attending to myself. Tragically, I become my own mission, rather than living in the wild and beautiful adventure of collaborating with God in His, thus tapping in to what I was created for in the first place.
And it is exhausting.
Here is the thing: God isn’t impressed with appearances. That takes the fun out of love, and it sucks the life out of relationship. The core dishonesty of wearing masks is a deep hindrance to intimacy, and what keeps us from celebrating the thing that is of greatest value to those who follow Jesus – that in Him we belong to a Father who derives joy in loving us as we are.
What could be better news?