|(Staircase, University of Michigan)|
One theme in my spiritual life is the diminishing of self so as to gain Christ. God has told me, "John, learn the joy of living in the background."
It happened recently at Redeemer, as we were worshiping. We were singing "From the Inside Out." One of the lines talks about "the art of losing myself." I pulled out a 3X5 card and wrote those words down. And added: This is it, the key to whatever Christ-effectiveness I shall have in this life.
Theistic philosopher Roger Scruton, in The Soul of the World, writes:
"If there is anything that could be called progress in the religious history of mankind, it resides in the gradual preference for the self over the other as the primary sacrificial victim. It is precisely in this that the Christian religion rests its moral claim." (Scruton, 2)
I pick up my journal. I'm looking for what God told me a few weeks ago. "Be content to stay in the background. Prepare for how I will use you in the end."
This is good, because a sign of progress in spiritual formation is growing self-recession. God will gift me with a ministry of absence.
In the spiritual life smaller is better. This allows God to be larger, and magnified, and glorified.
My two books are...
Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God
Leading the Presence-Driven Church
I'm now working on How God Changes the Human Heart.
Then, Linda and I will begin co-writing our book on Relationships.