Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Mark 8:35 - ‘Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for my sake will save it.’

Who said it would be easy?

I have said it before – I am a plain man. I know what I know - fish, tides, sail. The calling I could not deny. There is something to him that reminds of the stories told by the seafarers – of sirens who sing across the oceans. When he speaks there is nothing to do but listen; when he looks at you – you never want him to look away. There is some truth of that in why I am here, I admit it, yet I am a plain man.

And sometimes that is how he seems – a plain man - he asks a plain question – and the answer is clear – love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness. But the answer is not what you have been living; as though he has called some truth out of you that did not fit the world. The answer complicates your simple life by showing that it is wrong; a simple truth that reveals a life of lies.

When he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ why didn’t I just go with the others? I wanted to; I wanted him just to be a man; to be my friend and companion; to be my teacher.

But no, something opened my eyes and my heart and then it opened my mouth so that I barely knew what I had said. Then, when he spoke I realised what I had committed him to; what I had committed us all to. What would you have done but try to take it back?

I wanted my simple life with the Lord. I wanted him in my simple life, and isn’t that enough? But no, the simple life for me would mean not seeing what needed to be done; who needed to be helped; would mean a life that suited my needs and not others; that kept me safe.
What was ahead was not safe but it was where he was going – and to be with him meant saying goodbye after goodbye to before.

That life has to go. When the eyes, the heart and the mouth are opened it calls you to let go; to surrender to the truth. Once you have seen it, anything else is denial, once you believe it - it is all that you want.

What life?

The basics of Christianity seem very basic – Love God and your neighbour as yourself. So simple that we almost feel that they are not really Commands, they are too nice, too plain.
When actually they are too hard. To follow Jesus means to give up the worldly way of living. To turn away from a life that is ‘all about me’. To give it up and live a life that is all about him.
As the bracelet says – ‘What would Jesus do?’ – and do it.

We are not going to be able to do that by ourselves – for a start to know what Jesus would do we have to know Jesus; to not just believe but to follow; and to follow as closely as the first disciples.
And be prepared - just as Peter did – to get it right and to get it wrong.

Peter was not Satan, but the thought that went through Peter’s head was not God’s. And that’s the hard part. When our minds and hearts speak to us how do we tell where it is coming from?

This is called discernment and is part of contemplation. To imagine a scenario that is causing us trouble; maybe to find and read a piece of scripture that goes with what we are looking for.
To deliberately make the time and the space and ask specifically for God to speak. And then listen.

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