After experiencing that shrinking feeling and then taking on titanic proportions when she nibbled a biscuit labelled “EAT ME”, Alice falls to weeping — and is carried away on a flood of tears.
That’s pretty much where I’m at now in my own adventure down the rabbit hole.
In earlier posts I shared how I’ve realised that simply knowing more stuff — or even having an integrated Christian worldview — just won’t do the job when it comes to spiritual growth.
After making me feel small and insignificant, I think this realisation has led me to (finally) begin to get the significance of the ‘self’ in biblical passages like this:
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4.16)
So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2.8)
This is what I think I was driving at HERE (in my typically roundabout and muddled way).
Sharing of ourselves — investing personally in others — is the indispendible context for making and maturing disciples of Jesus: that is, people who not only have the ‘right answers’ theologically or an integrated Christian worldview, but who worship and love and centre their lives on him. (This, by the way, is why I’ve come to see solid preaching as necessary but insufficient.)
But why are our (shared) lives so significant? And how?
As examples. Obviously.
But examples of what?
Not perfection I take it (otherwise I’m out). But growth and change. The biblical term for which is also that word that stands over the start of the Christian life… Repentance!
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1.15)
Repentance is often associated with tears. You know, groveling and self-laceration? Like in certain over-rated Puritan prayers…
But I like the theological tradition (which you can find in Calvin) that binds repentance — gospel repentance — to joy.
It is with my face streaming with joy. As I’m carried away (not ‘lifted out of myself’). Soul and body. Exulting in the fist-pumpingly good news of the kingdom (at last!), of life, of the resurrection, of God’s “Yes”!
That’s the kind of life we’re called to share. To embody examples of. Living, walking, talking appetisers for the glorious feast we’re awaiting in the kingdom of God.
And, to pre-empt where all this is heading, for this we need recalibrated inner compasses — reordered desires, loves untangled and set right, hearts gripped and filled and brimming over with right affections (enacted in right habits). And we’ll only ever get this by believing the gospel more and more…
But you’ll have to forgive me. I’m getting carried away.