Thursday, August 28, 2014

Trying On

When our daughter Julia was 6 years old she did not want to try riding her bicycle without the training wheels. The idea of giving up the safety and stability of those extra wheels seemed ridiculous. She was perfectly happy with her current reality of training wheels.

As parents we could see and imagine for her what she could not – two wheel bicycle fun and freedom! Without training wheels she could go farther, faster and with more flexibility. We could see it for her, but she couldn’t imagine a future different from her present. So, she was having none of it whenever we suggested taking off the training wheels.

As parents, students, and business owners we all find ourselves in similar situations. How do we lead people to a future that is different from the present? How do we help people step out in the face of their fear? We can’t push folks too hard or they dig in their heels, resisting change even more. So what can we do to lead people into a future different from the present?

No doubt, this is a dilemma that God has thought a lot about too. Throughout the Biblical narrative one can imagine God scratching his head over people’s stubborn refusal to follow his commands – the ones that would lead them to freedom and joy. God tried several options to get people to change – threats, punishment, even exile. This seemed to work for seasons and yet the world remained unchanged – stuck in current reality.

Then God did something that had never been tried before – certainly never tried by anybody else’s god. God “tried on” the sinful flesh of the people who were so stuck. God identified with the people who were so scared, so stubborn, so resistant to change.

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 1Corinthians 5:21

It is an extraordinary act of love to be willing to “try on” ideas, behaviors, dreams, and experiences that are different from your own. It is risky. You could get dirty. You could get hurt. You could die. All these were indeed a reality for Jesus.

And it also happened to be this very act of humble, self-emptying, “trying on” out of love that broke open the possibility of a future different from our present.

Starets Zosima in Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov put it this way: “At some thoughts one stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide ‘I will combat it by humble love.’ If you resolve on that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: It is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.”

What ideas, experiences, dreams, music, or way of life is God compelling you to “try on” in loving humility? Who knows, you might be surprised to find that eventually the training wheels come off and a whole new wonderful world comes to life!

1 comment:

Becky Weiss said...

Change can sometimes be difficult, but it can also be exciting and awesome. If we are to be "salt and light" ,we must be willing to embrace new challenges and to take the next right step. Love the Dostoyevsky quote.
Thank you for this Pastor David.