Monday, September 14, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

living for you

I can't live your life for you. It is enough for me to live my own. I can walk with you. I can listen to you. I can back you up. I can offer advice (such an ugly word, reminds me of vice grips). But I can't live your life for you.

I wonder if it's the same with God. I have heard (for a long time and many times over) that if you accept Jesus then God comes to live in your heart by his spirit. And there is also language of rebirth that is added in the mix--being "born from above". The idea is that you can be "God's offspring". In other words, you can be a shoot or a branch of the plant that is God, very like a vine and its branches. Jesus even said that if you remain in him and he in you then you will bear a lot of fruit. Because he is living in you.

But is it HIS life he's living in you, or YOUR life he's living in you? I wonder. And in God's way of looking at things, do YOU even have a life apart from him?

I think a lot of well meaning people have the assumption that there is only one real life, that it is an essential life defined in the Bible, and that you enjoy that life in direct relationship to how much you conform to it. There are variations of this theory. One is that God has given you everything you need to know in the Bible, and you just need to follow it to enjoy it. Another is that if you give yourself over to the Spirit of God, then God will mystically transform you more and more into the likeness of Jesus, producing an "accidental" enjoyment of life (I use accidental in the technical sense--not meaning a mistake but meaning a state that you could arrive at independent of any concerted, intentional effort on your part).

I'm not convinced.

I'm not so sure that there is ONE life. I think maybe there are billions of life, each having its uttermost source in the life of God, but each being completely different--themes and variations if you will. I think of a master pianist playing some very basic theme and then elaborating into (seemingly) infinite variations on that theme, giving color and depth and beauty to the theme. Giving the theme a body.

And that brings me back to this idea of living your life for you. I don't know if God really wants to live your life for you. I know I don't want to. I want your life to be different/better/richer/fuller/truer/something-er because I am WITH you, but not because I am taking over for you. I'm not your replacement life. I certainly have known people who want to live other people's lives for them, though. It's like an invasion of the body snatchers. They tell them what to do, get mad if they don't, and leave them if they consistently don't. And I think there is a popular image of God that works like that. But that sounds more like a banshee situation than "enthusiasm" to me (again, I am using enthusiasm in a technical sense enthusiasm meaning "God inside").

The other idea that goes along with this quite easily is guilt by association. If I have bought into the idea that there is this ONE life, and that it comes first from God, then goes from person to person as they take dominion over the world and all her children by either their words or their actions, then I start to expect causal relationships. I expect that a pastor whips his church into shape, that an educated person gets his friends in line. But I haven't bought into this idea.

The idea that I have bought into is that there is more than one life, that there are thousands and millions and billions of expressions of the Creator, all with their uttermost source in him, all knowing the others but not fully, none understanding completely what the others have and are because none understanding fully the Creator, all at their deepest and truest self simultaneously being pulled into oneness and scattered into diversity.

Sometimes it's hard for people to believe that I can put up with the stuff I do. How can I possibly accept someone and continue to embrace someone who continues to choose dark paths? Easy. I can't live your life for you. It is enough for me to live my own. I can walk with you. I can listen to you. I can back you up. I can offer advice. But I can't live your life for you. I can stick around and I can react to you. But I can't live your life for you. Frankly I don't know the end of you, don't know the end of the path you will walk, especially if you walk it with God, in God. Who can understand his ways?

I can't live your life for you. It is your cross to bear. It is your face to wear. It is your live to live. It is your soul to give.

This song is resonating with me. It's in my heart and has found my voice. I admit to being a Christina Perry fan. I've been known to...