Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– Jesus, Luke 17.33
One of the reasons the exercise of slowly going through the Stations of the Cross is so helpful is because it allows us to spend time with the personality and character of Christ at a deeper level than observation. This deeper level of connection is profoundly important; it is the threshold of transformation.
When we comprehend the gravity of Jesus’ words coupled with his actions, it gives us a remarkably clear lens (or revelation) through which we are able to comprehend our own existence. The Tenth Station of the Cross is an outstanding example of this.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he says, “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back,” (Luke 6). At the end of Jesus’ ministry, “they divided up his clothes by casting lots,” (Luke 23, the Tenth Station). Jesus preached what he practiced. He didn’t just dreamingly babble about romantic ideals about a far away heavenly realm for us to agree are good. He calls us to a way of living; the Way of Living.
Yet, our behavior often reflects very little of this aspect Christ’s character, preaching, and personality. How often do we hear Christians whining about their gun-rights being taken from them? How often do we hear Christians complain about their definition of marriage being taken from them? How often do we (Christians) blame our government, teachers, bosses, parents, friends, or spouses for not giving us what we need or for taking away something that was “ours” while at the same time call a man “Lord” who had the very clothes on his body stripped off of him and distributed to others and whose “freedom of speech” brought about his death?
Do we see ourselves freely giving as we have freely received? If not, I can’t help but conclude that we must not be firstly freely receiving. Receiving denotes openness and space or room for taking in something. Are we just too full of comfort and opinion to receive?
I am in no way wanting to sound like I have accomplished this level of living. Because I haven’t! But the regular and daily practice of Silent Prayer has consistently disciplined my heart to being open and receptive in a Way that is slowly but surely freeing my heart from the confusion of thinking/believing that satisfaction can be found in any person, place, or thing other than the abiding love and presence of Christ, in all and through all. If you take my shirt, will I get pissed? Almost definitely. But do I think that is your fault? No. It is mine, for being so connected to a silly thing like a shirt. The same applies to gun laws, marriage laws, job positions, and a slew of other things we confuse for “ours”.
What do clothing, money, or possessions matter to someone whose happiness, satisfaction, and love are complete and abiding? This is Jesus’ invitation to all! Look no further than the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus clarified is within you (Luke 17.21).
“Christ Jesus, grant me the strength to press on to take hold of that for which You took hold of me; To persevere until I am mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (Philippians 3 & James 1)