Allowing Yourself to Be Weak

Warning: This post might step on some toes!

Our society has pretty much embraced the American cultural icon of the cowboy.  We revere those who ride alone and hard. We are rugged individualists and hardened men making our own way.  Our society reflects this in subdued ways.  No matter what happens, we are fiercely free and independent.  We are ‘desperadoes’–we do whatever we think is best.

This is distinctive to the American sense of being.  We are instilled with a pride and a freedom as our birthright.  John Wayne, the ‘Alamo,’ and the biker with his Harley-Davidson on Route 66 have been our inspiration.  Each are distinctly heroic and carry our hopes and dreams.

But the Bible is not an American book.  A cowboy did not die for our sins (which are many).  The way of discipleship does not take us through Dallas, Texas.  Rather, His Words to us are bold and entirely challenging in an amazingly fresh and different direction.  We are told to wash feet, to repeatedly turn the other cheek, to surrender all our rights, and then take the lowest place there is in every situation.

Jesus is positioned as the Lord over us.  Humility is to become  the way we think and how we act.  We have become slaves to righteousness.  Our vaunted independence has been toppled. The crown has slipped. My wilfulness still wants to stand instead of kneeling. We discover this has been the truth all along.  We have never ever been in control.  He has been the King since before time, and will always be, for an eternity.

“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness”. They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God”.

Jerry Bridges

I want to pose the following questions.  Are we honestly in a condition of being weak?  Can you serve with a basin and towel?  Is your heart that of a child? Do we see the world through the ‘lens’ of a soft and broken spirit?

Our churches often struggle often over issues of pride and stubbornness.  There is often little gentleness and brokenness to be seen.  We still see ourselves as independent, and we call our own shots.  I wonder if the lordship of Christ is even considered.  We may consider it noble to be a Christian, but our lives are not discipled.  (And they are not likely to be until God breaks us of our independence.)  It’s called, ‘the spirit of the age.’

“Holiness has never been the driving force of the majority. It is, however, mandatory for anyone who wants to enter the kingdom.”

Elisabeth Elliot

 

I write these things surveying my own life.  Self will and my hard heart fit ‘hand-and-glove’ with being that desperado.  I ride alone, making my own way, and I don’t make any disciples. I jettison my cross— my cross of discipleship.  I serve no one, unless it suits me.  Am I His disciple, or am I a man of my own?  Is He my lord, or have I decided to claim that right for myself? We must decide these things.

I only hope I have spoken the truth today. Forgive me if I offended.

“Lord, I am willing to receive what You give, to lack what You withhold, to relinquish what You take, to suffer what You inflict, to be what You require.”  Amen.

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Bearing One Another Up

And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.

Mark 2:3

Sociologists are quick to point out that the healthiest people mentally and physically, are those who are functionally aware of others.  These people often find themselves in “the helping professions” like nurses, counselors, pastors, policemen and many other affiliated occupations.  It seems that there are some who will wade into other people’s lives, try to do what seems right and most importantly, touching others in their needs.

There are some who say that you either got it, or you don’t.  My issue is that Jesus seems to think that His followers would learn how to activate this mentality– this gift.  Each of us are directed to “bear one another’s burdens” This really can’t be adjusted in order to fit my selfish personality. Regardless of my personal proclivities,  it seems I am stuck with “the least of these”.  Thankfully Jesus promises me a Helper to help me, and help others who need help.

Carrying a cot for a paralyzed man seems to be indicative of how life is going to go for us, as we surrender to the task and carry our share of the load.  We comply with the need of the moment, to bring this man into the Lord’s presence.  I’m not thinking rewards here, or any special recognition.  Essentially, I’m just the schmuck who has to carry this guy into the presence of Jesus.

“Our society is filled with runaways, dropouts, and quitters. The epidemic of walking away has hit our land with effects as devastating as the bubonic plague, and it has destroyed millions of effective lives and relationships. We are so self-centered that we have ceased to lay down our lives for others.”

Kay Arthur

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Making a way for our friends

There is a definitive call to service as His student, His disciple.  You just might say that learning how to forget yourself is the major starting point for a real servant.  It’s like your new Cadillac Escalade, equipped with cameras and a computer on the dash.  You don’t need to ask for these, they just give them to you.  It is part of the package. Serving is part of the package that discipleship has when its delivered to your “apartment door.”

You will learn to serve someone else.  This tutelage takes a long, long time.  In all of these lessons we are free to leave, terminating our relationship with the person we are serving.  But I don’t advise this at all.  Jacob had Laban teaching him, and teaching him, for many years.  Scripture is jammed full of men and women learning by serving. And sometimes, that can take a lot of time– maybe years.

There was four men carrying the paralytic, two would’ve been a strain, and three awkward.  No–four is just right.  Let us be a serious people,  fulfilling our responsibility to our friend lying on the cot and to Jesus.  We are all in this together.  Now– it’s time to take your place and lift.

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Bone Tired Weariness

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8 Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30, New Living Translation

Weariness and burdens are our common plight. We all have them. They are shared as sort of common identity, like eye color or hair color. We all have them, and wish we didn’t. Sometimes we feel like shutting down.

Weariness, that bone-tiredness that sleep doesn’t seem to help. We seem to be chronically fatigued by life and what it brings us. We have heavy burdens, we carry a load that only gets heavier (and never lighter.)

Money problems, bills that are past due, marriages, straying children, cars that need fixing, family problems, job hassles, health problems… the list goes on ad nauseam. There are far too many issues, too many problems. I believe boredom and tedium are added to the list as they only intensify the hopelessness. (Its own special kind of suffering.)

Some will choose to ‘self medicate’ with alcohol or drugs. They want something more, and find they only create more burdens (not less.) Some will become hopelessly addicted, never finding relief from their burdens, but only increasing them. Suicide very often is seen as the only way out.

But Jesus will never condemn (leave that to the Pharisees) but instead offers a sort of amnesty to the burnt-out and the burdened. Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Jesus did not say, “Get away from me, I am holy and you are not.” Rather, He makes himself to be the solution to all those who life has overwhelmed. He wants our burdens and takes on our weariness. He wants us. He wants to give us peace and rest.

He invites us to exchange whatever burdens us for the yoke of discipleship.

An easy trade, especially since we are so desperate. Some have evaluated Jesus’ offer and made the transaction–piling up our burdens at His feet. We might be a little hesitant about the “my yoke” part, but will quickly find that discipleship can’t be compared to the weight we once carried for so long.

The non-demands of biblical disciplehip are easyFor my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Following Jesus becomes the best way to live.

29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31

 

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