Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whoever Does Not Renounce All He Has...

I was reading something in Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis that I didn't really agree with. And that is A-okay with me, but it caused me to think.

Rob was giving a lot of very interesting history on Jewish rabbis and the relationship they had with their disciples. And towards the end of the chapter, he said that Jesus is calling his disciples to believe in themselves and that what bugged Jesus most about his disciples was how we have the tendency to lose faith in ourselves.

I believe Christian maturity is not becoming stronger and more dependent on our abilities, but becoming weaker and less reliant on our abilities and more reliant on Jesus. When I read the Gospels, I see Jesus getting frustrated with their unbelief in him. Misplaced faith is usually what I see that happened with the disciples.

Such was the case with Peter on the water. Peter had full confidence in his Master, but when the wind picked up and began to look threatening, he shifted his focus from Jesus to himself. And becoming aware of his own inability to walk on water or withstand the winds, he began to sink. Why? It was not because Peter lost faith in himself. It was because his faith lost sight of its proper object -- Jesus.

Peter, having even great faith in himself, could not have walked on water. It was physically impossible for him. He could have tried with all his might to walk on water and still sink.

We are continually, as Christians, being brought back to the place of absolute helplessness and dependence on Jesus alone. That is true Christian maturity.

Weakness doesn't exactly feel Christian. It is scary to realize you have no control and therefore abandon yourself to a God whom you cannot see.

Faith in Jesus is the only thing that pleases the Father.

You, a human, cannot physically walk on water by your own efforts. It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is of no avail.

Faith is not a practice of self-help but a practice of renouncing self. Abandoning all trust and confidence in oneself and putting that faith where it ought to be: In Jesus.


Going Goofy said...

I am reading Velvet Elvis right now and I disagreed with this also. I am really enjoying the read though, he makes me think "outside the God box" and question what we believe. I may not agree with everything that he writes but I do enjoy the stretching of the spiritual "muscles."

Matthew Campbell said...

Hey Sherry,

I agree. I've really enjoyed the book, but some things he says (especially in the chapter I am on right now) rub me the wrong way. I just finished the part where he
mentions the parable of the sheep and the goats. It didn't sit well with me at all.

I really love the small history lessons. And over all, its just a good thought provoking book.

Jamie and Ryan also bought me his book Sex God. That one is pretty interesting as well, but I haven't gotten very far into it yet. But he pretty much uses sexuality to explain spiritual truths.

Joel B. said...

"Weakness doesn't exactly feel Christian."

I think that's partly because we've been sold "Christianity without Christ." (I'm borrowing the term from Paul Anderson-Walsh).

Any "Christian" teaching, whether it's legalism or whether it's all this "have faith in yourself" bologna, that doesn't point to Christ and His life in us, is truly to be renounced and replaced with what PAW also calls "Christ without Christianity."

Matthew Campbell said...

Exactly the point, Joel.

Self-help nonsense and teachings that aim to strengthen the flesh are being taught everywhere.

Malcolm always refers to it as the lamb in Revelation that speaks like a dragon. People who speak of Jesus and point to his teachings like the sermon on the mount but NEVER mention his death. They never mention the Lamb as it had been slain.

Bino M. said...

Yes, His power is made perfect in weakness... What we need is His grace is it is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)