Posted by: Dan | June 16, 2004

The Things That Kill Us

I've frequently heard a proverb that goes something like this:

“Sometimes the things we want most in life are the things that will kill us.”

It's often used to illustrate the need to want the right things. The illustration of drug addicts is often used to reinforce this point, these people want the wrong thing and it ends up killing them. The emphasis is therefore on the first word, “Sometimes what we want will end up killing us.” Therefore if we want the right things we'll live a long and happy life. I've started to think this statement is completely misleading. I've started to think that maybe we need to remove the “sometimes” from that saying.

“The things we want most in life are the things that will kill us.”

I think that if we want the right things in life, they also will be the things that kill us. As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus and that means taking up a cross, and that means dying. Following Jesus will kill us. Want the right things and we may end up living the opposite of a long and happy life.

All of us, in one way or another, are laying down our lives for something. It's just a question of what we're dying for.

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Responses

  1. (if you like) Talk to me about joy…joy to be found in, or that comes from, taking up the cross and dying!

    Thanks for the reminder.

    peace.

  2. Sorry this is taking so long Jude. I sat down and wrote out a fairly lengthy response and then somehow managed to delete it all just as I went to post it. Frig. Then I got too pissed off to type it all again. Friggin’ joy. So I’ll try again soon.

  3. We’re all dying for something.
    I’m dying for a beer.

    Question, what does it mean to be a prophet? If it just means saying things to people that cause them to examine their lives and point them to God, then you’re already a prophet. But then again, so are most of us…?

  4. this is how brueggemann [an old testament scholar, and not one of those charismatic types who have a lot to say about prophecy but don’t really understand the definitions of the words they use, let alone the contexts in which they are used] sums up his book, ‘the prophetic imagination.’
    1 – the task of the prophetic ministry is to evoke an alternative community that knows it is about different things in different ways. and that alternative community has a variety of relationships with the dominant community.
    2 – the practice of prophetic ministry is not some special thing done two days a week. rather, it is done in, with, and under all the acts of ministry… it concerns a stance and posture or a hermeneutic about the world of death and the word of life that can be brought to light in every context [i would flush that out to say that the prophetic gift is demonstrated in both a prophetic message and a prophetic lifestyle].
    3 – prophetic ministry seeks to penetrate the numbness to face the body of death in which we are caught. clearly, the numbness sometimes evokes from us rage and anger, but the numbness is more likely to be penetrated by grief and lament. death, and that is our state, does not require indignation as much as it requires anguish and the sharing in the pain [private and public act].
    4 – prophetic ministry seeks to penetrate despair so that new futures can be believed in and embraced by us… grief and praise are ways of prophetic criticism and energy
    …i have come to think there is no more succinct summary of prophetic ministry than the statement of jesus ‘blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh'[luke 6.21], or, more familiarly, ‘blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'[matt. 5.4].
    …jesus’ concern was, finally, for the joy of the kingdom… but he was clear that the rejoicing in that future required a grieving about the present order… there is grief work to be done in the present that the future may come. this saying is a harsh one for it sets this grief work as the precondition of joy. it announces that those who have not cared enough to grieve will not know joy.
    …it is not a formal, external requirement but rather the only door and route to joy… a summary of the entire theology of the cross. only that kind of anguished disengagement permits fruitful yearning and only the public embrace of deathliness permits newness to come.

    so abe, i think you are right about an aspect of the prophetic gift. and i think that you are a little bit right to point out that, as members of the people of god, this is something we should all be engaged in to at least some degree… after all prophecy is given for the sake of the peole of god as a whole, not just for individuals. but when you look at brueggemann’s complete picture can you see why hardly any of us actually are genuine prophets[insert question mark]. i’ll let your own conscience and interaction with the spirit of god tell you the degree in which you have engaged in grieving. how much have any of us engaged in that[question mark]. how many of us are truly living prophetic lives, truly enacting the prophetic message[question mark]. it’s something i’m striving for, but i’ve got a long, long, way to go yet.

  5. Brokenness is the key to shifting our perspective[insert punctuation of choice]


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