True Paths

There are things that are right and true. There are things that are wrong and false. And then there are opinions which skirt about both of those. These are the places where it is easy to become partisan and entrenched when the true path to truth lies within a mixture of both.

I believe that applies very much to the common evangelical scene at the moment. I personally feel caught between a rock and a hard place because I’m not where I was.

There are things I hold to as being true. Things I have found to be false. And then there is everything else that either needs more thought or will never be resolved. That’s where I am and am likely to remain.

However, let me say how that fits in to life in the church. What I desire is participation. People who will come on the Kingdom walk, discussing as we go, sharing our little bit of revelation, one with the other, without entrenchment leading to trench warfare. That gets people nowhere.

At this stage in life, early to mid thirties, I have launched out on the ‘further journey’…the path you take when you leave the comforts of home and the familiar and branch out simply because of the aching suspicion that there is ‘more than this.’ It is, as the prophet Jeremiah calls it, the call to seek the ‘ancient paths’, the ways that are always true, to discover as Paul says, life hidden with Christ in God. It is to echo the call of Abraham and leave your familiar place and go to the place God has prepared.

It is, in the truest sense, to hear the call ‘Follow me’ and to leave the familiar tools of your trade, ways of thinking, and discover the deeper life of holiness in Christ beyond a simplistic dualism of black and white.

The journey is towards a new simplicity of being able to say ‘to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.

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Dead or Alive?

I recently had the opportunity to revisit, for a few brief moments, a place that has become special to me.  It is almost a year since I was baptised in the River Almond in Perthshire, by the same stretch of glen that I spent a contemplative day outdoors considering some big messages on a ‘retreat’ I went on last year.  Being there again brought all the magic, yes, magic, back fresh.  It is one of those places which has become, for me, a thin place….where the veil between heaven and earth is so thin you can hear the breath of God.

It was in the place last year, and again this year, that I simply remembered that so much of what we build for ourselves is but a facade.  Our false self, our inflated ego, sets the world up around us and helps us give, at the best, the impression that we’re all sorted and that we’re building something that will last when, actually, life isn’t about me at all.  This body, my name, my identity, my role, title, job description, will all slip away.  It is all so elusive.  All the things I’ve managed to conjure up for myself will ultimately pass away.  It will die, and so will I.  There are so many ‘bits’ that will simply fall away.

You’d think that such thoughts were depressing.  But actually, I’ve found the opposite to be true.  I’ve found that the real treasure underneath the surface is where the real investment is to be made.  When we get to the point of accepting that our own mini salvation projects are not what life is about, we then start to see the bigger picture of where we fit in things, what our life ultimately means, and how God is more about refining our deepest gold that will last than he is about buffing our chrome veneer.

And so there is great freedom in ‘considering myself dead to myself and alive in Christ’, as Paul said.  There is freedom in not being consumed by defending your own thoughts, views, opinions, will or ideas.  There is freedom in not being overwhelmed by the rush to own things, consume things, have things.  There is freedom in not having to be right and prove everyone wrong.  There is freedom in accepting that there is a crack in everything, and in welcoming the light that shines through the self-same cracks.

It is for freedom the Christ set us free. Its just that the way to his Kingdom freedom is always through death, darkness, grief, and loss before we glimpse the glory of Resurrected life.  Jesus set the pattern.

The irony is that you can be breathing but be dead.  To truly live is to have experience so many deaths that all that is left is refined and abundant life.  May we each learn to die daily and by doing so find true life.