What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots and wandered into a far country. Yet, they kept coming back to Jesus.
~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
And calling the crowd to Him with Him disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
~ Jesus, King of The Universe, in Mark 8
Oh beloved, it is true.
We know that we are broken. This is the prelude to the Good News of Jesus Christ. For, when we come to the end of our belief in ourselves, we can begin to actually believe in the One Who is so mighty to save. And really, nothing gets started – until we come to the end of who we are.
The problem, though, is not just with us. The problem is that we really need to come to believe that entire system around us is broken too. Wave upon wave of history has shown us that we are more than willing to destroy everything around us.
So, there are two insidiously complementary forces at work. And this even leaves out The Satan, who works to push the boulders of our destruction even faster down the hills we have made. We are in a terrible bind, and there is no fix to the problem.
In our own personal walks, we find that it doesn’t really matter how long we have been trusting in Him. There is a dead part of us that simply will not be regenerated. We can be twenty years into getting things right, and in 20 seconds, be right back to some behavior that never got us what we wanted in the first place.
And, in the travels of our civilizations, we find that there really is nothing new under the sun either. Centuries and, even now millennia, of our history with “A.D.” (Anno Domini, or Year of Our Lord) after the year, have shown that every culture, no matter how impregnated with the Gospel, is able to walk away from the One Who set her free.
This has happened four times actually in America, with the recent 40-years being the latest. Thankfully, there were three great awakenings in the 1730s, the early 1800s and also in the late 1850s. But, it is yet to be seen if America will awaken from her moral and spiritual near-coma, which started in the late 1960s, but which set in most fully after the 9/11 attacks.
Can we see it?
All of this points back to the very prelude of the Gospel: Blessed are the poor in spirit. And, when any of us, or any group of us, begins to think that we are rich in and of ourselves – we are in real trouble. The first thing we lose is our sense of blessedness, and begin to think we are entitled to the wonderful life we have found.
Further, our view of G_d gets small. We begin to think that we already “get it,” and that there is no need for us to continue growing as a person, or as a nation. We think to ourselves, “I have already become very rich. There is no need for me to continue in the planting and harvesting. I will take my leasure.” However, what we find, is that our lives (and even a nation’s life) actually come to an end the day we stop learning and growing.
So, are you struggling with failure? Are the sins of your past beginning to plague you again? It happens. But the solution is exactly the same as it ever has been. You, and this fool of writer, and the nations we inhabit, need to remember that we really cannot do life on our own. We are utterly poor, apart from Him. And to listen to our incorrigible old man will only hasten our demise.
Tonight is your night beloved. Time to remember Who is the Source of your strength. And time to ignore the old voice of our self.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: The flood of temporal things draws us after itself, but in this flood there is, as it were, a full-grown tree: our Lord Jesus Christ. He took flesh, died, and ascended to heaven. It is as if He agreed to be in the flood of the temporal. Is this stream dragging you headlong? Hold on to Christ. He became temporal for you, so that you might become eternal, for He became temporal in such a way that He remained eternal. What difference is there between two men in a prison when one of the is a convict and the other a visitor! Sometimes a man comes to visit his friend, and it seems that both are in prison, but there is a great difference between them. One of themes is held there because of guilt, while the other has come out of love for mankind. Thus it is with our mortality: guilt holds us here, but Christ had come out of mercy. He came freely into bondage, and not as a convict.
~St. Augustine, Sermons on I John, II.10
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7