I’m Learning

Reckon the old man dead.

I am crucified with Christ.

Counted to be righteous.

Beauty for ashes.

New creations in Christ.

Ever since I came to faith, I’ve heard these quotes and sayings. I love them. I believe them. 

But, how? How is it that I am crucified with Christ or declared righteous? Sometimes it seems like magical thinking, like make believe, a game of pretend. 

If I were crucified with Christ, I’d be like Jesus, wouldn’t I? I’d be consistently loving my enemies, caring for creation, serving the poor, hospitable to the immigrant and refugee, embracing sinners, welcoming the least, caring for the poor, homeless, marginalized, disenfranchised, the mentally ill, the addicted, the sick, the lonely and the lost. I’d be the nonviolent servant of all. If I were crucified with Christ, I’d be standing up against racism, injustice, consumerism, despotism, patriarchy, conspiracy theories, violence, poverty, and militarism. I’d be living by the Sermon on the Mount. 

I look at my life and I don’t feel much different than most people around me. Surveys and statistics consistently bear out the fact that church-going, Bible-believing, born-again Christians in general act no differently than others.

Is the gospel only about “going to heaven when you die,” and not about bringing God’s love to the world? 

“They’ll know you are my followers by your love,” said Jesus. 

The problem, at least for me, is that I’ve long been a part of a tradition that emphasizes Bible knowledge at the expense of transformation.

I’m grateful for the Bible knowledge. The more we know the Bible, the better. When I belatedly went to seminary, I discovered I knew the scriptures better than some of the professors. The problem was that those professors were more Christ-like than me. Knowledge without transformation puffs up. 

As he looked around Denmark in the 19th century, Kierkegaard saw clearly that the whole nation claimed to be Christian, yet virtually no one acted like Jesus. Gen-Z and Millennials look around 21st century North America and see the same thing. That’s why they’ve nearly universally abandoned evangelicalism.  

I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw. I was angry, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, supportive of policies that hurt those Jesus called “the least of these my sisters and brothers,” and full of judgmentalism.

The intensive training that goes into becoming a legitimate pastor, counselor, chaplain, life coach, and spiritual director is helping teach me to listen, observe, accept, and be teachable. I’m learning humility. I’m learning I don’t know it all. I’m learning that some of what I know and believe needs to be challenged. I’m learning to be ok with nuance and mystery.

Most of all, I’m learning to love.

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on August 2, 2021, in anabaptist, Bible Teaching, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, Life Coaching, Peace Shalom Hesed, social justice, Spiritual Direction, Spirituality, The Cross. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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