Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Freedom from the Need to Be Glorified

Butterfly in my backyard

When God used Peter and John to heal the man who could not  walk in Acts 3, the people who saw this wanted to worship Peter and John. Thankfully, Peter and John were not doing this to be admired. They replied, Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? (Acts 3:12) This is a sign of their maturity.

This is amazing, since power tends to corrupt people. The preacher loves being the center of attention, the worship musicians love being awesome, the healer loves to have the hem of their garment touched. All that is part of our sickness and infantileness. I know this personally, and pray continually to be free from it.

Henri Nouwen writes: "Our desire to be successful, well liked, and influential becomes increasingly less important as we come closer to God’s heart." (Nouwen, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, p. 17)

Nouwen is correct. As we get transformed more and more into Christlikeness (Galatians 4:19) Christ becomes prominent, and "I" decrease into the background. In the language of Gestalt psychology, Jesus becomes "figure," and I become "ground." 

As we mature spiritually, we grow in our desire to see Christ alone be glorified. We are not disappointed when he gets the attention, because we are free from the need to be acknowledged. This freedom is realistic since, as Dag Hammarskjold once wrote, "reputation increases, ability decreases." (Hammarskjold, Markings)

I pray to more and more realize that I am less and less, in comparison with Christ. For lovers of Jesus, this is far from a letdown.

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (August 2017)