Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Weight of Glory

I am from a cynical generation. We don't take very much seriously, and by default we don't trust anything established, ordered, or programmed. Most of us see things that are highly structured as things that aren't personal, and therefore not genuine. Traditional and ceremonial and rigidly-programmed ways of doing Christianity tend to rub us the wrong way, and we generally consider them as the least effective, honest, life-giving, and, again, genuine way of doing things. Now all of this is a sweeping generalization... but that doesn't mean it holds no truth.

Through bible college I have heard lots of talk about just getting to the core of Christianity or ministry or evangelism, and how its all about just loving each other and being for Christ and being salt/light. Exasperated with some recent Church experience or the American Church in general, people will exclaim, “We just need to get rid of all this baggage! We make Christianity this huge complicated thing, and the Christ we show people is stupid bumper stickers, flashy lights, wannabe hipster preachers and corny billboards. We got all these programs for reaching people and programs for being the church and programs for worshipping-- we just need to get rid of all the programs and love God, love each other, and love the world. If we could just be Salt and Light in the world rather than corny-christians we would all be better off!”Now you may or not agree with all of that, but it is nonetheless the atmosphere of my generation's spirituality.

JUST love people.
JUST love God.
JUST be salt and light.

JUST is the catchword of my generation.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I have realized the arrogance of my generation's rally cry.
Because I have realized the haughtiness of the “JUST” version of Christian life.
Because I have realized I can't do it.

I CAN'T do it. Up until now I always thought you just went out and did it. Yeah, simplifying down to being JUST Salt and Light, that was the key. If you made that step, and just DID it, well there you go. But now I feel the crushing weight of it on me. How on earth am I supposed to be salt and light? How am I supposed to be the light--when I am so dark?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us...”
– 2 Corinthians 5:20

How do the weight of these words not crush us? How can we say “Oh ya, just be salt and light. That's the ticket. Then you will be living the real effective Christian life!”

Just be salt and light? JUST?

I feel the weight of the glory that I represent falling on my shoulders. It is not my job to represent a crucified pitiful God. It is not my job to be nice. It is not my job to stay out of trouble or spout Christian platitudes. It is not my job to represent a man, a good moral teacher, or even a sacrificial martyr. It is my job to show people the power of the risen resurrected King of the universe. It is my job to represent this beautiful King in heaven, who reigns in glory over creation. It is my job to represent an exalted Prince or Peace whose eyes burn like fire and whose clothes shine like lightning and whose word never fails. It is my job to somehow integrate his Reign and being with my life, thoughts and actions in such a way that I actually have an effect on people. In my life people are supposed to see not Christ the man, but Christ the King. In my life people are supposed to see God reconciling the world to himself and restoring all of creation and healing the world. In my life people are supposed to see Christ in all of His Glory. And the weight of it is crushing. Yeah, I'll just go out and bring the kingdom. I'll just go out and be a blessing. I'll just go out and be salt and light in the world. I'll just do that? How am I supposed to do that?

I can't. I can't. I can't!

I thought before that my foolishness was in trying to do too many things. I thought my vanity was in the idea that I needed to be everywhere solving all the problems, instead of just being exactly where I was stewarding what God has given me. I thought the hard part was simplifying and curbing my desire to do something other than what God placed me to do. I was wrong. I now see that my foolishness was just as equally that I thought it would be easy.

That wasn't the hard part. The hard part is doing it. How can we take it so lightly? How does the weight of His Glory not crush us? I am not enough for this. I can't do it. And thats the key to the whole thing. I can't represent Christ in all of His Glory--and I am not supposed to.

We aren't the ones who represent Christ. It is the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us that is supposed to lead us and guide us and transform us. It isn't up to US, it is up to the Spirit working through us. The beautiful truth of Christian living is that we aren't supposed to be the ones who do it. The working of the Spirit of resurrection in our hearts and minds lets us conform to Christ. We let go of ourselves and Christ sanctifies us and he uses us. I am not enough for this. I can't do it. But Christ in me? He certainly can.

But even that is hard!

How do I become the sort of person that lets him use me? How do I become the sort of person who lets go enough that the Spirit can fill me to the brim, fill me to overflowing, fill me into a channel of grace?
Even the prospect of letting go is daunting. Just the idea of becoming less so that Jesus himself can be the salt and light...that alone will take everything I have.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”-- John 3:30

May we all take these words to heart as we feel the weight of Glory.

~J.L. Smith

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