Friday, January 11, 2008

Go Deep

On Dec 25th 2007, after weeks of feeling discontent, I made a contract with God. I called it a Declaration of Faith. In it, I made a declaration that from now on I would seek Him first in everything that I do.

Since then, I questioned myself....

What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it merely going to prayer meeting on Wednesday? Fellowship on Thursday? Sit in the pew for an hour on Sun? Go to Sun School and then head out for lunch? Is that Christian living?

There is a thirst, a hunger to know more. The need to go deep.

I am taking a Discipleship course. The prof discussed one passage that spoke very clear to me. It was the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-21):

The Rich Young Man
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

18"Which ones?" the man inquired.

Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,'[d] and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'[e]"

20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"

21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

What I found the most fascinating was the response from the Rich Young Man after Jesus answered his first question to obtain eternal life...

20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"

What do I still lack? The young man could easily have said, "thanks Rabbi, I already obey all those commandments. I guess I can sit back and look forward to eternal life." Instead the young man asked one more question, 'what do I still lack?'. Perhaps a sign that he was not satisfy with Jesus' answer. Possibly a sign that he wanted to go deeper?

Jesus response with:

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (v. 21)

Since the young man already follow all the commandments, Jesus can say, 'great, I will see you in heaven.' No way. Jesus likes to raise the bar. He gave the young man a radical answer. Sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me. Radical indeed.

The rich young ruler is looking for a challenge and Jesus gave it to him.
The rich young ruler is looking to go deep and Jesus set a higher expectation than his imagination.

This is what I crave about Christian living. It is not merely the religious rituals. It is the relationship. The connection. The fire within. The thirst to get closer to Christ. The need to seek Him.

As a triathlete who did his first Ironman last year, the training was never easy.

Every training, the body, the mind and the heart is stretch bit by bit. There is no comfort zone. Every week, one would train longer and further. The goal of every training is to tear the body apart. In repairing itself, it will become stronger. Then tear it apart again.

From three hour bike rides to seven hour bike rides.
From running an hour to three hours.
From swimming 10 laps to 80 laps.
The process itself is simple. Not easy but simple. Refine and stretch. Again and again.

One would have think the thought of giving up would be overwhelming. The same challenges that will discourage instead provides a renewal to keep going. They fuel oneself to attempt beyond one's expectation.

In short, one starts to go deeper and further than one can imagine. One starts to live with passion and not merely what the eyes see. One starts to take a leap of faith.

As someone who dedicated himself to follow Christ, another verse spoke loud and clear to me.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."(Matthew 16: 24)

Show me my inequity so that I am reminded that you are the water that will forever satisfy my thirst. Tear my soul apart. Rebuild me with your awesome power of love and grace. Let there be no comfort zone in my spiritual walk. Mold me for your Will and prune me until there is nothing left.

1 comment:

Yellowgiraffe said...

Hi Cliff,

I stumbled upon your blog after leaving a message for Jen and I have to say, I am very inspired and hmmm... it really makes me think.

I have just started attending church again after backsliding for a very long time, and one of the things I struggle with, is how committing to church will sit with my triathlon dreams, and whether God will "condone" triathlons... because clearly for a newbie like me, every hour spent on training is an hour away from God (and trust me, I'd need many many hours of training from where I am now). And perhaps more importantly, the idea of achieving one's personal best at races seem so selfish and self-important to me, so it's really quite a struggle.

But reading your blog, and Jen's, I am starting to think... perhaps I am having a really lousy understanding of God and triathlon!

Thank you.