Saturday, May 19, 2018

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.

Some preachers love being the center of attention, worship musicians love being awesome, healers love having the hem of their garments touched. These are signs of distance from God. 

The cure is being close to God. 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)

As we get transformed more and more into Christlikeness (Galatians 4:19) Christ becomes prominent, and "I" diminish 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 glorified. We are not disappointed when he gets the spotlight, 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)

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