Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Alive Man Walking

I have a book in mind to write. It is about the inner life of the Christian apostle Paul. Other than Jesus, this one person has more to do our experience of Christianity in the west than any other. My thought is to study the "crucial transition points" of his life. Paul refers to them as "fighting the fight of faith." I believe that they have much to say to those who desire to grow into the kind of persons God has in mind. Paul wrote, "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." This is not something external to him such as a project or program. "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works." "Good works" arise out of the work God does within us. In my experience, the most meaningful work God does in me happens as I journey through stress, conflict, confusion, loss and seeming defeat.

And yet Paul seems to continually rejoice in his sufferings. This is far from resigning himself to a life of hardship. I believe it has to do with Jesus' call to be crucified. His Lord died and then rose again. Paul had every confidence that when something in his life died, God would bring an even greater resurrection. Suffering and such things were not just inevitable parts of life. They were God's tools to make something greater out of him. Perhaps there has been no one who has gotten this better than Paul. I (at least a part of me) wants to follow in this way. This does not mean that I will look to inflict suffering upon myself. Enough will come my way of its own accord. Right now it means that I will study Paul's life and write that book for my own good, if not for anyone else's.

Paul wrote "Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ." (Philippians 1:27) Everyone has something for which they conduct themselves. There is a song playing somewhere, a story being rehearsed in the heart, an memory of something that matters. What we are committed to shows up in the choices we make. It may be like this: Conduct yourself in a manner worthy of --

our family

this company
the shame you bear
the secret no one must know
the next pleasure
your individual rights
protecting all you have accumulated
success, winning, being King of the Hill, etc.

The best thing a Christian can do is walk worthily of the Gospel of Christ. This is the great work in the heart -- that everything is measured and directed by the Gospel.

The good news is that if we don't like the way our lives are going, we can change. This is the work God does in those who are willing. As we pray, read the Scripture, and engage authentic fellowship with other believers, the Holy Spirit replaces our old internal music with something more in line with His eternal purpose. Soon, we start whistling along with it and more of the image of God gets on display for the redemption of the world.

No comments: