My best friend, Mark, posted on Facebook these sayings from St Isaac the Syrian:
“Rebuke no one, criticize no one, not even those who live very wickedly.”
“Spread your robe over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them.”
“And if you cannot take the fault on yourself and accept their punishment in their place, do not destroy their character.”
I’ve recently had several conversations about a saying that John Wimber made popular in the Vineyard movement. He used to say, “I want to grow up before I grow old.” This pithy statement would always evoke a laugh from the audience. But now in my 40’s, I’m realizing how important a life-goal this should be.
Most of the posts on my blog basically say the same thing. The core desire of my life is to be reformed into a person that naturally and easily embodies Jesus’ character into the world.
Through his resurrection, Jesus has inaugurated his Father’s restoration of the world he created and loves. That project is being further implemented by those who answer Jesus’ radical call to follow him and become his apprentices.
From a human standpoint, Jesus’ call seems absolutely crazy. Love God with everything you are. Forgive everyone for everything. Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every circumstance. And the list could go on.
But this list is not a checklist of things to do. Rather, it’s a description, even a promise, of the kind of person we can be under Jesus’ tutelage.
Based on the average life expectancy of a man in the United States, I’m past the halfway point. This has caused a lot of internal reflection over the past couple of years. Much of my youth, even with my best intentions, was spent pursuing the wrong values; painting my life with colors I thought were attractive. But as the paint has begun to dry, I’ve realized I don’t like how it looks.
Sayings such as St Isaac’s, one of Jesus’ successful apprentices, remind me that there is a better way to live, a better way to be. And they compel me to repaint my life, hoping that when the paint finally dries in the latter part of my life, I will have chosen the proper colors that reflect Christ into the world and that help a bit in the renewal of this world that he loves.