I have once again picked up reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Mind you, I do not always agree with his perspective, but for the most part his thoughts are challenging. My approach is to randomly click on a chapter and see what the text brings about. Today I found Book Two-The Interior Life, Chapter 11-Few Love The Cross Of Jesus. Here is a powerful excerpt:
Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love for Jesus — love that is flee from all self-interest and self-love!
I am sure you are wondering what this excerpt spoke to me. Well, my recent post entitled rollercoaster ride metaphorically tells the story my family and I have been on the past seven years. As a result of that journey I have discovered many issues about myself and others, as well as the struggles before us all. One of my discoveries, in dialogue with Chris Chappotin, is my wavering love for Jesus and humanity. It’s not easy to admit, yet it is important to face this issue in order to right-the-ship of my life. My pursuit of Jesus and his movement here in north Texas was truly pure and motivated by love for Him and others when we arrived, but that changed and I did not know it. At the end of my self-evaluation it really is love that was lacking. This problem is not because I lacked the “spiritual disciplines” of prayer, meditation and study. No, rather it is because I was not always focused on the one who disciplines my spirit and quenches the cravings in my soul. My hope is to continually receive the pure love of Jesus in me so my self-interests and self-love disappear, so that my life is one lived with gospel intent and complete abandon to Him.
May my life and yours not be a hinderance to the movement of the Spirit. May my life and yours be a catalyst for others to come to the Cross with their self-interests and sin to be reconciled and redeemed to God through Christ. May we gather around Christ for the purpose of being on mission with God.
Ponder these questions:
Do you love Jesus the Christ?
Does your heart break for humanity…for your neighbor?
Do you struggle with self-interests and self-love?
Do you live with gospel intent?
Does your life reflect complete abandon to Jesus?