Resist the Resistance.
Date Published: 08 / 23 / 2022 |
Love slays what we have been
that we may be what we were not.
— St. Augustine
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life will keep it.
What does Jesus mean by this? What do you think about this?
Jesus says that in order to follow him you need to lose your life. Your “rights” are not his concern, in fact he says that if anyone were to come after me they must come and die (take up your cross) and follow me (Luke 9:23). To put it bluntly and crassly, Jesus intends to kill you, but not murder you. He intends that the old self (a.k.a the flesh - some might say the ego) must die in order for you to live a truly spirit filled Christian life.
Have you ever felt that God might be trying to kill you?
Suffering, pain, loneliness, sadness, anger, despair, and exhaustion keep coming. Theresa of Avalon once said something to the effect, “if this is how God treats his friends I see how he has so few.” This rings true and is also a very entitled thing for a human to say to God.
But God is killing the parts of us that don’t look like him. Sometimes he uses a chisel, sometimes he uses sandpaper, other times he kindly polishes us to get us to the place of true life. Killing dead parts of us is painful. Like surgery, it often requires an incision and some post-op healing. Some of these “dead parts” are things we like about ourselves, things that have helped us survive until this point or guilty pleasures that we are not sure we are done with yet.
Augustine spoke of his early days as a Christian in this way, “Lord, give me chastity!….but not yet.” But as he soon found out, God did not consult with him about the way forward.
God loves you enough to change you even if it hurts you.
Any parent understands this. Children without direction, love and discipline are either destined to destroy themselves or they flee for refuge to someone that can help.
Well, Jesus and his heavenly Father are here to receive those who have fled to him for refuge and They don’t mind stepping in to discipline those that resist - not out of cruelty, but because God has chosen to love and to save their souls.
So what can we do?
Can we participate in this work on our souls (in theology we call this sanctification, which is the process by which God makes us more like Jesus)? The answer is yes, but it doesn’t come by human grit and intense effort. Instead, I think it comes down to one thing for us.
“Resist the resistance.”
What I mean is that we stop resisting God. When we know He is calling us to repent of something, we don’t resist, but we repent. When we know God is calling us to do something good for another person, our church or a loved one, we must resist the resistance to be selfish.
There are things within all of us
that we are not willing to resist yet.
What is it for you?
As a Christian, you are saved, loved and forgiven by God. You have been adopted as a child of God the Father; yet, there is this old way in you that resists His love at every turn. Your job is to resist this resistance by the power of the Holy Spirit. You are not a slave to your desires, emotions and sin patterns. You are not a slave to the flesh. Resist it.
Now this is what Jesus really means by losing your life. He actually said in one place that we must take up our cross “daily.” I think this cross can be many things, but very practically, it means that we must resist the resistance that is in us.
All that is in us that resists God’s holiness, his love, his commands, his people, his calling must be resisted. Either you cooperate with what God is doing in you or He will just do it Himself. Jesus is going to make sure that you are going to grow as you follow him, but you can make it a bit easier on yourself and experience more joy on a daily basis if you participate by resisting the resistance.
My prayer is that we all resist the resistance and lean into the workings of God in our life. Thanks be to God that He is persistent, kind, loving and always good.
Grace and peace,