12 August 2010

Self[ish] Thoughts

In a few short weeks I will be beginning my classes at seminary. From working on-campus this summer I've received many of those get-to-know-you questions, like "Where are you from?", "What are you studying?", or my personal favorite, "What do you want to do with that?"

Let me fill you in on my answers: "I just graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and am continuing to further my education in Biblical studies. I hope to become a Bible professor someday."

This time of transition in my life has forced to carefully rethink my life's goals (which, I believe, are in line with God's... Not that I think that He has my life written out for me, but that's an entirely different topic for another blog post). What if the main reason why I want to become a professor is because of the authority I will acquire or the respect I will gain?

In the beautiful memoir In the Name of Jesus, Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen recounts his experience of living among mentally handicapped people.
"[...] Their liking or disliking me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then. Since nobody could read my books, the books could not impress anyone, and since most of them never went to school, my twenty years at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard did not provide a significant introduction. My considerable ecumenical experience proved even less valuable."
What if, like Nouwen, I am somewhere down the road called to an area of ministry where I have no job title or status? Would I be ok with that?

The truth is, whether we are in full-time ministry or are simply full-time disciples, nothing we do in life should be for the edification of ourselves. Not accumulating money, not being famous, not being on the honor roll, not getting the next best position, not climbing the corporate ladder.

If we're trying to climb the ladder, we're going to miss Jesus, because He is climbing down it.

Jesus, equal with God, made Himself nothing (Philippians 2:5-11). We Greek nerds have a word for this: kenosis, or "emptying." Whereas Jesus made Himself nothing, we try to make ourselves something. When Jesus calls us to be His followers, He calls us to mimic this same lifestyle. To come and die.

Abba, teach me what it means to continue to die to myself, for it is only in dying that I am reborn. I am no longer my own but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be empty, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to Your disposal.


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