Monday, 19 January 2015

To Follow

As I discussed in my previous post total 'freedom' to do whatever we want regardless of the consequences or harm committed to others is a total failure in every regard to what it means to be human. The reason why we are shocked and nauseated by the stories of abuse and violence committed by extremists is because these stories militate against our sense of basic common shared lives.

Freedom then is understood through a set of parameters, bounded by 'laws' or 'the common good'. So freedom is not to do whatever I want whenever I want, rather it is a desire to mutual self-giving love.

The difficulty we face however is that the vast majority of us do not like being told what to do. We like to believe we are masters of our own destiny,

Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

Being in control of our own lives matters immensely. So whilst many of us would agree that love for one another is vital we also want that love to be conditional to my own rights to my own life and my own destiny.

To surrender your life to another then seems completely absurd in light of who we are as people and what it means to be 'free'.

Yet I believe that it is only in surrender we discover our true selves.

I follow Jesus and am committed to following Jesus, whatever that means and however that looks. Now I am aware (not fully, but aware) of my own fallenness, limitations, hypocrisy and blind spots so that I do not follow faithfully as I should, yet I have no hesitation in stating that I have given my life over to God, that my life is not my own any longer, in other words, 'to live is Christ.'

I am sure that there will be some who read this with confusion or even horror.

Is not the surrender of your life to another the recipe for abuse, extremism, radicalisation and even terrorism?

Depends on who it is you follow.

You see we are all followers of something or someone. Our lives are in a perpetual state of allowing others to determine our steps that we then claim as our own made by our own free choice. Yet to be truly free in our choices requires an impossible array of pre-existant factors. Who we are today and what we believe is influenced by our history, culture, upbringing, prejudices and a whole host of other  subliminal messages.

Take for instances the phrase, 'religion is the cause of all wars.' Now when someone says this it is because they have heard it said somewhere before by someone who they can not remember. They do not believe this because they have studied the evidence, explored history and political theory, researched church history and religious writings, no, it is simply something they believe. If they had looked into it they would know that it is a statement that has no claim and is completely false.

Therefore, to follow willingly with great thought and serious consideration the One who commands us to Love sacrificially, unconditionally, forgivingly is to enter a Way of life that is determined by the law of love. It is to recognise our own limitations in living and loving properly, yet also to witness the beauty and wonder within each of us. It is, in other words, to be free.

To follow Jesus is a surrender, yet it is to surrender to the One who is truly human and so to become ourselves more fully human. Is that not what so many of us desire? To discover our true selves? Do not so many of us grapple with anxiety over who we are and what our identity is? Jesus continually reveals that truth to us.

To surrender to Jesus is not simply to become more human, it is also to 'share in the divine nature' to enter into relationship with God, the One who loves in perfect freedom. It is to discover Life lived in relationship with the source of all life.

Jesus calls those who follow to take up their cross and follow him. This life committed to Jesus is not a self-help stroll through a pick and mix of narcissistic desires, rather it is the surrender to a life that seeks to imitate Christ.

To follow is not a surrender of your brain, to blindly go without thinking, reason or understanding, rather, it is to grapple, wrestle, think, pray, study, listen, look and contemplate.

Having considered all the possibilities, to follow Jesus seems to me the only Way to go.

None of our lives are our own, for we all worship at the feet of something, whether we know it or not. In Jesus however I believe there is life and so in following I believe we discover life. So he can have my life, it is his to shape.

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