Shaking Paradigms

Another gloomy day in Chicagoland… and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to get my footing straight.

I’m talking this awesome class based on Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy book. Now, this is the third time I’ve been through the book. I did a Bible Study on it with my small group a few years ago. Then I tried to go through it by myself once again (but it’s easier to digest with a class). I had been looking for a class online and kept up looking all through Covid. Finally, I found one. This is a good one because they’re doing it basically a 1/2 chapter at a time for 32 weeks.

Anyway, one of the things they’re really focusing on is the concept of being an apprentice of the master: Christ, obviously.  And, as an apprentice, you want to follow Him around and learn to do what He did, to practice the craft that He has mastered. That got me to thinking, what IS it that Christ did? What WAS His craft? What AM I trying to master? In a way, it was hard to figure that out. I mean, I know He did miracles but I can’t expect to do that. I can’t expect to heal people. I WISH I could, but I haven’t been blessed with that gift (is anybody REALLY?)

So, what does one do when they can’t figure out what someone’s craft was? I googled, “What did Christ do?” I got several answers including that he was joyful and kind. Suddenly I realized that I had never pictured Christ as joyful or kind. I always seem to interpret the Bible with the role of Jesus being played by somebody who walks around sadly, gazing at you with mournful stares and reminding you that your badness is going to require him to go to a horrendous death–so just you don’t forget it. I guess that’s because how he was always played by the actors in the Jesus movies I saw as a kid and that’s sort of how He was painted in the pictures I saw. I can’t seem to get that interpretation out of my head. And I realized that I didn’t particularly WANT to be like Christ.

Sure, I’d like to be sin-free. I’d like to live a sinless life… to a certain extent, I guess. I don’t know for sure whether writing the sex scenes in my books are a sin or not. The sex is always between men and women who will soon be married or would be married if they COULD be married. It’s always framed in love. I don’t FEEL like it’s a sin (or maybe I do sometimes–but I’m not convinced of it). What I write is generally loving and lovely and not bawdy or x-rated. It’s spicy, though. And it’s integral to the plot.

But, back to the original subject, other than the sin-free part, I didn’t particularly WANT to be like Christ. I didn’t want to be a mopey person who walks around with their palms together and their eyes raised to the sky constantly asking God questions. But I DO want to be joyous and kind. I like the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Heck, yeah, I’d like to have/be all those things! But, if those are the fruit of the spirit, wouldn’t that mean that Jesus had/was all those things?

The other thing I thought of today was that I struggle with pride issues. Long ago, I thought that was one thing I DIDN’T struggle with, but over the past couple of decades, I realized I certainly do. But for Jesus, He didn’t have the same kinds of struggles I have. When somebody already IS the center of attention, it’s easier to give up BEING the center because you know you can have it back with the wave of a hand. Those few times in my life when I actually had lots of attention, it was easy to steer it elsewhere because I knew attention, reward, honor, or whatever could be mine–I was just forgoing it for others. When you DON’T have it, it’s hard not to try to get it. Of COURSE, I would love to sell lots of my books. Then it would be easier to push others’ titles. Instead, I find myself fighting jealousy when others have a little success… I mean REALLY fighting to be glad for them. I HATE that in myself. HATE it. But if I were a big selling author, I’d have no problem promoting others. I’d be graciously pushing their books on my Facebook page. It’s EASY to give what you have already but it’s so hard to give what you don’t have. In some ways, Jesus had everything… and what He didn’t have, He didn’t seem to need or want. Is that the answer? To learn not to want things you don’t have?

I’m so confused right now. This is one of the bigger spiritual crisis times in my life… not so much about God or even about Jesus or what I should do exactly, but more about the true nature of being a Christ-follower. I certainly am re-thinking all my beliefs about church. Paradigms are so shaken right now.

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