Losing the world and gaining everything.
“You can have my soul, just like Jericho come and tear down my walls”. – Passion
I don’t know about you, but I have no plans whatsoever in this life to leave anything behind. My intention is to give everything that is within me. I want to be swept away to a point of no return, where at the end I can say I have given it all I’ve got.
In the church, you will find behavioural analysts who stand by and decide whether or not a person is serving as he/she should be. My proposition is to resolve to love—to love thy neighbour as thyself, to an extent where giving becomes more than sympathy or charity but is in Christ who dwells and lives in us. That above anything else should be priority.
This love that surpasses all knowledge and understanding can take us beyond the natural—beyond our limited capacity—where our giving is done with the eyes of Jesus’ and loving a brother or sister will be as He loves them. Because it is only in Christ that we can make a real impact and transform lives.
The truth is that there is too much need in this world to get ourselves perfect before we lend a hand. The truth is that there is too much of life to live, to only live it when we get it right!
If we allow ourselves to become bogged down with an over-emphasis on behavioural modification, the assistance we are to render to those in need will be compromised and perhaps may never even take place. A settlers’ mindset is solely focused on improving superficial protocol, and not fighting for transformational spiritual breakthrough! We were created to be creative and adaptive to each person and scenario, to be pioneers of the redemptive and restorative order of Christ. In each and every new generation, we are to bring something new into tired and frustrated lives. Ultimately, focusing on each soul and on bended knee interceding and seeking Christ to reconcile them – and if you have an active part to play, by all means, step in.
I’d like to ask: What does it mean to love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 12:30-31)? As essentially, this is the law of the book.
Having a dark side has given fierce insight. Seasons of battling mental and depressive disorders tend to make us cut to the chase; it gives us an intense and magnified image of our existence. Ultimately, when we drop to the lowest point where superficial layers make utterly no sense and serve no purpose, we tend to come out seeing things very differently. This is why I absolutely love speaking to people that have gone through serious bouts of depression and mental illness. There’s nothing like having a conversation without full obedience to social protocol, without the full obedience to cultural layers and uniformed niceties (although is not completely unnecessary).
The writer of the monograph ‘A Mentally Ill Artist’ describes an artist whose work was so deeply profound that it cut through all the usual order and cultural norm that it practically spoke to his soul. He states: “The effect of illness which dissociated and ravaged the superficial layers of his psyche, enabling the deeper layers, including his latent artistry, to develop.” In short he is saying that the artist’s mental illness sliced away all protocol that he had wired into him and was able to communicate from his very inner being through a painting to his viewer’s soul.
How much more would you think we are capable of if we were to deviate from the over-emphasis on behavioural protocol? Perhaps we would be able to communicate with the broken, make real relationships and love them as Jesus did, and ultimately befriend them.
As christians, yes behaviour modification is part of the process, but should it be priority? Should our sense of propriety take precedence over the essential law of Christ—to love thy neighbour as thyself?
Culture is important and so is social etiquette. It provides a foundational space where people can relate. The downside to protocol and social etiquette is that it frequently puts us in a box, restraining us from exceeding its bounds. This is where spirit comes—“to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19)—and with the priority of loving thy neighbour as thyself.
Consumerist Christianity only looks inwardly making one fearful of giving and losing too much, making one fearful of being burnt out and downtrodden. Heart-abandoned worship and surrender to God empowers us—and if we ask for it, we’d see our neighbour as He sees them. That is truly the gospel of Christ.
Yes, let the behavioural analyst sharpen us but do not let them have the final say. Yes, take the lesson and hone your message. But ultimately, get back to what you need to do! It is iron that sharpens iron after all (Proverbs 27:17). And while they make us better, we too make them better—together in unity we can build something new.
Living and being fully alive
Being vulnerable, present and mindful
Living and being fully alive doesn’t mean scurrying around and necessarily milking every ounce of energy that you have ‘helping’ people and ‘getting shizz done’. It still comes with levels of being present and mindful. Each scenario takes careful consideration, and also helps to seek the advice of a mentor; this is something that will come with practice and maturity. It doesn’t involve being a vigilante Batman in the night, but looking around and seeing the immediate need, checking in with Christ, and seeking Him. Taking time to fully seek Him is best, but if that luxury isn’t present, go by the Spirit. Once you have the go ahead or have peace in your spirit, step in! Do something! You may get it wrong, but that’s fine—truly there is no success like a failure well learnt.
I think the key thing for us is to really begin living in the fullness of the freedom that is talked about in Galatians 5. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Freedom is accessible to every one of us! And to those who don’t know it, or can’t see it because they’ve been taken captive, do what you can through love to guide them to find it.
Guard your heart
Galatians 5:25-26 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
I haven’t always lived in complete freedom. In fact, many a time I’ve been taken captive to the battles in my mind and heart. But when I am free, how free I am indeed! And ultimately, it is for these moments—to feel the Spirit and to see the reward of tireless labour—that I live!
It is here that I must also express the dangers of being vulnerable and living and loving adventurously; the enemy is close and you’ve become a target to fall captive yourself (*raises hand guiltily*). Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
It is in captivity where we can find ourselves conceited, provoking and envying, which is mentioned above (Galatians 5:25-26). In this arena, opinions vary. One may say “better not to do it at all if you are going to fail”. My take is that this is a mentality based on fear that can be applied to any situation, in which case, it is better not to live at all!
Failure to me is not necessarily defeat. To me, it is the foundation of success. So if you have fallen into that pit, it is okay. Dust yourself off, reflect on what went wrong and take some practical steps to move ahead with a better frame of mind and a stronger heart. You can do it.
You can do it
Galatians 6:6 – “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
True freedom gives you strength, courage and motivation. It gives you a heart-abandoned vision of which is so gleaming, wonderful and pure that you will fight for it past your point of exhaustion. And that’s okay because Christ will top you up (Isaiah 57:10)!
It is this love that will take you past your point of exhaustion. And if I may, I say give every ounce of it back! I say, live so fully, love so unrequitedly, give so generously and save nothing for this life or the next! (Paraphrasing Erwin McManus) Lose the measure, lose the scale, lose the logic and intellect, and allow the Spirit to take you on an adventure that will intrude on your sense of propriety, that will take you beyond your organised structure, that will invade your comfort zone—because at the end of that is life fully spent and lived, a life that Jesus and all the greats have lived.