I have questions.
I just finished publishing the book jesus outed: Farcical Tales & Exploratory Essays in a Post-Christian World and it is out there in a, um…Post Christian World. I am supposed to do blogs that have fun little snippets; build an audience and THEN I can hawk my books. That’s how they do it over at Patheos.com.
But the fact of the matter is I am inherent NOT built for this at all. I am built to write a book like jesus outed, but not promote it. Give lectures? Or, better still, do a short presentation and then do a dynamic group workshop? Absolutely. But not this other stuff.
Even this post is pushing it.
SPOKE is about Jesus. I want people to do well in Him. That is what makes me happy, and well, He makes me happy too.
You see I suffer from the same disease we all inherit. For fun let’s call it the “Suck of Self” disease. It’s the disease that catapults us into a blinding fury that we can never take back; or seems to consistently undo our best intentions in a relationship; or makes us petty or competitive; or makes us think that our primary worth is somehow related to how many books we sell or how many zeros we have in our bank balance when, in reality, all of that is fleeting.
Or it drives our religious quest and builds an artifice that is so not about God and what is grace to people.
And it’s why we can’t stop mid-argument and say “wait, I’m wrong,” because at that moment our “Self” seems to somehow ride on all of it.
Of course we know that mathematically it is impossible for all of us to be the center off the universe, just deep down we are sure when all is tallied up…we are still kind of it.
So along comes the Son of Man who actually is the Center of the Universe and He does not insist on that at all. Au contraire. And through His servant Paul, in the letter to the Philippians, He says we should make it our goal to do likewise and empty ourselves for others and that this is the pattern.
And a lot of us know that this is deeply true.
If you know of anyone, or are anyone, who has just removed all the “governors;” all restraints in your need to allow your “suck of self” to be utterly unhindered, then you know true misery and the unalterable hollowness that can never be filled. This is possibly why some people cling to the idea “the journey is the goal”.
But there is a different struggle, and it is such because it takes faith (the world will tell you daily you are crazy as they create more fantasy). “We have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him,” says Paul.
It’s simple, clean, non-religious and about Jesus.
Have you ever been down to the core of you existence, to utter spiritual nakedness?
I have, and it was not pretty.
I won’t share it with you (details) because Thomas Merton, the Catholic Trappist monk (who has had the most profound effect on me) advised against it and I trust his advice. But I will share this with you because I think it might be helpful.
At the bottom, where there is nothing; where everything is burned away and gone and everything in this world appears fallen (which it is) and you most of all…there is only one thing: Jesus. You can say His name over and over again because it (He) is the one thing that is not ruined, or against you, or besmirched in some way…or at all complicated.
You can just say His name, over and over to Him and yourself when things get very hard.
It has been years since that time, but I think about it every now and then and how it was like touching the core of existence alive and personal. “You I know are real. The rest of this is bullshit.” was kind of my experience.
And this was many years after I had written “I have been to the Center and it is not Us.” I guess it was important for me to see it a few different ways.
It’s not Us. It’s Him.
I actually like my book because it points to him. If it didn’t I think I would hate it by now and want to shoot myself about now.
Pray this blog stays about Him.