Friday, April 12, 2013

Apart from God it Perishes

This one was difficult to write about. When it comes to commenting on the spiritual life there are billions of variables. Great saints like Francis de Sales and Ignatius of Loyola could say it all better than me--and a college of saints beyond them. I could have written more but I'd committed myself to being simpler. Nevertheless I added a significant amount from when I delivered this today.

This is my own humble attempt, one that I brought about from today's (4/12/2013) Scripture passages. Please be sure to comment and, if you so desire, follow this blog!

If it is man-made it will perish and if it is from God it can never be destroyed. The pharisee Gamaliel said as much to his fellow leaders concerning the Apostles who preached the name of Jesus.

Were the leaders truly persuaded by his words? Though they did not kill the Apostles they flogged them so as to dissuade them from preaching. This did little to stop them as they considered it an honor to suffer in the Lord's name. We know the fate of the Apostles, all martyrs, which is summed up in the phrase “love of life did not deter them from death” (Rev 12:11). They were willing to suffer for Christ's sake and for the mission He gave them.

There is a parallel we may draw between the Apostles and Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes:

The Apostles, preaching Jesus, are carried away, rebuked, and made to suffer.

Jesus, manifesting his power to a great multitude, was going to be carried away, honored, and made king.

In this brief synopsis there are many parallels but I'll focus on only one. The Apostles bore Christ into Jerusalem, but when a multitude of men wished to carry Him off and make Him king, he departed from them. What is the lesson we can learn here?

Many of us, even with good intentions, will want to bear Christ as 'king' in this world. Yet when we make Christ the champion of our own causes we run the risk of exulting ourselves in Christ's name. The area becomes all the more gray when it's something we care about.
Christ's entry into Jerusalem. Remember this?

The difference between the two groups—the Apostles and the multitude—is, I suspect, that the Apostles knew who Christ was and what he stood for while the multitude wanted to exult Christ for what they wanted Christ to be for them. The situation is an unsettling one to think about since Christ is an easy name to gather around and a name that inspires us so greatly.

We must reflect deeply about how we present Him and why we present Him. When we truly present Him we must be prepared to suffer in the flesh and in the spirit, and even then the suffering and persecution does not mean God is with us or that we've suffered for His name. Recall that “Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing” (Acts 5:36).

It's difficult to determine everything, but a few things we should keep in mind: “he must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). Can we sacrifice a bit of our pride for the sake of unity? Can we sacrifice our own image so it more closely images the shame of the cross?
Remember this?
Those who bear Christ know that there are times they must let go just as Christ left his hands and feet to those men who would drive nails into them. Those who hold themselves up hold onto themselves even tighter—and they usually lose everything.

The suffering we're called to endure comes about when we courageously yet humbly present Christ to the world, at times by standing boldly in the face of injustice while at other times speaking His name because we are compelled to speak no other.

What should be our concern? “To dwell in the Lord's house all the days of my life” (Ps 27:4) and when we seek this above all else, all we should hold dear will become clear. Our zeal will never falter and “although our outer self is wasting away our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16).