‘You know the generous Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich’ 2 Cor 8:9
Do you like rice pudding (creamed rice for our American friends)? As a chid I used to wait until it had cooled and formed a skin, and then try to bounce my spoon on it! Childish. However when I preached on this passage last week I have been struck ever since that, like the skin on the rice pudding, I haven’t even made a dent in it! You see, If discipleship really is following Jesus into downward mobility, then we need to be careful that it is Him leading us there. I am, like you, searching for the truly radical life. I often joke to my friends about how much I enjoy ministering to a dying church; you see as we die to ourselves so His life is released..does that therefore mean that the ‘secret’ to church life lies in it’s death? Absolutely, and that’s no secret.
The apostle Paul wrote ‘and you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ’ 1 Cor 11:1 Is it possible to take that seriously? Does following Jesus mean merely entering into a self destructive life? If we enter into this journey on a purely human level we can easily persuade ourselves that choosing elements of Jesus’s life to imitate will allow us to demonstrate a radical life that others will be attracted to. We can find ourselves adapting His downward mobility to our own drive for the upward path. We can even write books on it.
What I am most struck by this week is the sense that if we really want to choose the radical life, the downward path, then we need to allow Him to choose where we go. Imitating Jesus doesn’t begin with imitating what He did (although that’s important), it begins with allowing the Spirit to transform us into who He is, in our unique and particular way. The way of the cross is no mere imitation of the human nature of Christ, nor is it merely a mere imitation of the human example of Paul. The truly radical life starts not with caring about constructs of what our life looks like (in comparison to those around us); it cares far more about who’s we look like. That’s a much harder journey as we begin to die even to our own constructions of the radical Christian life. This is not merely a copycat Kingdom, but a Kingdom of radical transformation..of being led into His poverty so deeply and with such childlike faith and submission that maybe none of us can guess what our lives will eventually look like. Isn’t that the point?