Monday, April 18, 2011

On Aging Backward

A great blog entry, thought I'd share:

On Aging Backward

One reason why we struggle so much with the Christian life as Christians is that we think that growing up in the faith involves becoming less dependent on God, that if I were really mature, I wouldn't be such a mess and so needy for Jesus. But in reality precisely the opposite is true. In God’s economy, we age backward. As you mature as a Christian, you become more like a child, not less. You’re born an “adult,” so to speak – relying on your own goodness and power and wisdom and strength to gain acceptance with God; it’s your natural inclination. But when you’re born again, you start aging backwards. As you mature, you become more like a child.

Now if you’ve been around the Christian faith for a while you might be thinking, “Wait a second! Isn’t the goal of sanctification (growth as a Christian) to become more like Jesus? Absolutely! But you have to listen carefully to what Jesus says: “I can do nothing by myself. I can only do what I see my daddy doing.”

Do you know where that’s from? That’s the gospel of John – John 5:19! And do you know what it means? It means that to become more like a child is to become more like Jesus. Or as Paul Miller in his phenomenal book, A Praying Life, puts it:

When Jesus tells us to become like little children, he isn’t telling us to do anything he isn’t already doing. Jesus is, without question, the most dependent human being who ever lived….[And] he is inviting us into his life of living dependence on his heavenly Father. When Jesus tells us to believe, he isn’t asking us to work up some spiritual energy. He’s telling us to realize that, like him, we don’t have the resources to do life....To become more like Jesus is to feel increasingly unable to do life, increasingly wary of your heart. Paradoxically, you get holier while you are feeling less holy. The very thing you were trying to escape – your inability – opens the door to…grace.

But this, as you know is completely counter-intuitive. It goes against the grain of our fallen nature. It swims upstream against the current of performance and achievement. And because of this we have a deeply ingrained aversion to our own weakness, to our own inner-child. Therefore we will always have a strong desire to resist our dependence and aim for self-reliance.

How can you overcome this? Look at Jesus dying on the cross for you! When you see Jesus dying for you, you will see that you must be desperately needy, like an orphan on the street; otherwise, it wouldn’t have cost the Father so much to bring you into his family. If you could have worked your way to God, Jesus died for absolutely nothing. Jesus' death proves that you are a child and need to be carried to the Lord. You can’t even walk to him!

And here’s what’s exciting: the people he welcomes are the people who feel their need of him. That’s all you have to bring - your desperate need!

So at the cross, see your need, and as you do, don’t run from it. Don’t try to make up for the lack that you see by an appeal to your adulthood – your goodness, your works, your intelligence, your strength, your power. Instead, embrace it! Pick up your weakness and powerlessness and inability to save yourself and bring it to Jesus. He’s saying, “That’s why I died and rose again for you!” Like the old hymn goes: All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of him.

R W Glenn

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