Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name? Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same? Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me.
One of the most difficult tasks for any of us is to leave ourselves behind. We live in a world submerged in self-interest. And we are human – we like to think about ourselves, to figure out who we are, and how we place in the world.
There is a certain amount of self concern that is healthy, contrary to what some of our brethren might suggest. We need to learn about the wondrous creation of God that we are, because in doing so, we learn more about God. We need to understand how we relate to others, because in doing so, we grow in our understanding of who God is. We absolutely need to care for ourselves, because if we do not, we will be of no use to anyone, including God.
What is unhealthy, and quickly become unacceptable and inappropriate, is when we forget that our self-understanding comes in relation to others (God and other people). When we do that, our worldview becomes about an agenda, or control, or security at the cost to others. Worst of all, we give into self-righteousness and begin to believe that God speaks only to us, that we have all the answers, and that everyone else should think as we do.
In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King pointed out that, “In a real sense all life is inter-related. [We] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
Following Christ is not about living a life so pious that everyone will be in awe of your holiness. Why? Because no one is that holy, except Jesus.
Following Christ is about living a life of love with reckless abandon. Following Christ is about seeking God’s purposes for this world – fullness of life, justice, and peace. Following Christ is about attracting hostile stares because you are breaking down walls, building the broken up, and welcoming the unwanted.
So will you leave your unhealthy self behind? Will you begin to seek other’s well-being as much as your own? Will you become someone who not only prays, but also answers prayer in tangible ways?