I have another great quote following on the tail of yesterday’s statement. This one is from George MacLeod, the founder of the Iona Community. He says:
“I simply argue that the Cross should be raised in the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town?s garbage heap; at a crossroads, so cosmopolitan they had to write his title in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. That is what He died for. And that is what He died about. And that is where church people ought to be, and what church people ought to be about.”
If our vocation in life is to follow Christ, then this quote tells me two things in particular. First, following Christ always means following him into death to myself. Jesus said we must FIRST take up our crosses BEFORE we can be his students. Death to self is the prerequisite to truly following Jesus. As Marva Dawn says, “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Take up your teddy bear and follow me.'”
The second thing this quote tells me is that following Jesus will always lead me into real life — the gritty, get your hands dirty, everyday kind of life. I’m amazed at how the holy and transcendent God, Creator of the universe, can dive head-first into creation and pitch his tent with sinful humanity. He gets deep into his creation. But rather than getting tainted by the corruption around him, he is able to transform it with the love and goodness of who he is.
Therefore, following Jesus means I need to die to myself so that I can become the kind of person who naturally follows him into the dark crevices of real life. And then like him, naturally transform all I encounter with a love and goodness that has become part of who I am.
Like Paul says in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Father, I have so much to learn in regards to following Jesus. Teach me. Correct me. Have mercy on me. And like Christ, may I be planted in the fertile soil of the world so that I may bear the divine fruit of love. Amen.