Thursday, December 13, 2012

At The End Of My Rope

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. - Matthew 5:3 (The Message)

It is easy to think of Jesus as a winner. He faced down the religious and imperial authorities, calling them out on their injustice and hypocrisy. And, when all was said and done, his Father raised him from the dead, seating him at his right hand. Jesus won the victory over sin and death, opening the way for us to follow him into life. From our vantage point today, Jesus is the greatest success story of all time.

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that Jesus' ministry was an abject failure in the eyes of almost everyone living during his earthly ministry. There is no doubt that, even after the resurrection, virtually nobody thought anything about Jesus. If they had heard of him at all, most folks knew him as just another failed messiah - crucified by the Romans, as usual. Jesus was a loser.

The mystery of Jesus' victory is that it appeared as defeat to the eyes of the world. He refused to take up the mantle of a military messiah who would exercise dominion through force. Nor did he embrace the power of the religious authorities, manipulating ritual and symbols to command submission. Instead, he took on the form of a slave, yielding his life and personal ambitions up to death.

In a world that was used to winners like Caesar and Pilate, Caiaphas and Herod, Jesus was a nobody. Jesus signaled his insignificance by his refusal to impose his will on others. Instead, he wandered about with a motley crew of disciples, preaching about a coming Kingdom in which all things would be restored to truth and righteousness.

Jesus is the anti-Caesar. While the powers of this world are busy pointing to themselves, Jesus directs his friends to the Father. While Caesar proclaimed himself God, Jesus lay aside the privileges of divinity in order to live in full solidarity with a rebellious humanity. While the imperial rulers and religious authorities lived in luxury and sat in places of honor, Jesus was stripped naked and nailed to a cross.

But there is more to this story. The humble, hidden Kingdom of Jesus has overcome the haughty grandeur of the kingdoms of this world. While Caesar's victories have been swallowed up in death a thousand times over, Jesus lives and reigns forever. How can this be so?

It does not make rational sense to me, but I can sense the truth of it in my bones. Real power lies in surrender. To grow in wisdom is to shrink in self. As I seek to walk in Christ's light, I am forced to recognize my own limitations. I am confronted by the reality that I am never going to change the world. But if I am willing to hand my life entirely over to God, to die to my own ambitions and desire for recognition, Christ in me becomes my hope of glory.

Am I ready to walk in the path of Jesus? Am I prepared to embrace the holy surrender that lies at the heart of his ministry? Do I have the courage to be a failure in the eyes of the world, so that I may share in Christ's victory?


shannon said...

If we let our egos dissolve into channels of love for the world, it is radical. It is where real power comes from.

AWESOME blog post.

jthompson said...

I can sense your struggle, and am keeping you in the light. A wise person once said to me, if the path before you is easy, than it probably is not your path.

God does this so we can grow.

Make sure you touch base with elders and surround yourself with love.

~Much love

Connie said...

"Real power lies in surrender."

Thank you for this reminder. I needed it today...

When I think back on my life, it seems that those times when I was "at the end of my rope" and was able to surrender all to God and lose myself - if even for a moment, that's when I have been re-made stronger - with more power, I guess I could say.

But I need constant reminders, it seems...

John said...

From Bob O'Hearn wise words on surrender....

“God is in himself so exalted that he is beyond the reach of either knowledge or desire. Desire extends further than anything that can be grasped by knowledge. It is wider than the whole of the heavens, than all angels, even though everything that lives on earth is contained in the spark of a single angel. Desire is wide, immeasurably so. But nothing that knowledge can grasp or desire can want, is God. Where knowledge and desire end, there is darkness, and there God shines.”

~ Meister Eckhart

No one knows the reason for any of this – why even make it a question?

Death doesn’t. The unleashed wonder of that moment is sufficient to still any speculation. This is not a metaphor — it will be the same door opening inward that once opened out.

I am that swinging door, not knowing in from out, death from life, me from you. What is surrender? The surrender that can be done is not true surrender. Who surrenders to what? Who surrenders what?

What do I possess — what is mine — that I can really let go of? Where can I find any portion of myself that is ever divisible from itself, except in hallucinations of self and other?

My desire to surrender is not mine, my hopes and dreams are not even mine, my living, loving, dying is not mine, nor is any surrender mine. Being nothing myself, I am already everything. To whom shall I surrender?

I do not rise in the morning by my own will, nor do I sleep by my own power. What appears before me as world and other is never at any distance from myself, and so on what altar shall I place this pretense of submission?

Even the motive to surrender at last must be seen as arising from some subtle sense of separation. What has been given, what received, other than oneself?

The one who would surrender is the one who keeps surrender out of reach.

In the midst of the stream, I, water, bend to cup water, then offer it back to the river. The river itself flows on and on, mindless of my feeble gestures, my fantasies of surrender.

James Breiling said...

Forward to affirming to emulate the conduct and to follow ever better the instructions of Jesus (the Sermon on the Mount is wonderfully rich in instructions concerning conduct, prayer (in private, opening to listening) and thoughts). Most of these lend themselves to tracking and, when recorded on a chart(s), for you (and if you wish, others) to quickly see your advancement and other.

Who will select a few instructions (start small so not to be overwhelmed and so quit), chart daily performance and plot for ready visualization and perhaps sharing.

What about a community whose members share their activity in ever more following the instructions of Jesus?

broschultz said...