Living larger, stronger, calmer Is what the Saviour comes to show To his Father’s loved and loving Children who labor here below. (Living Calm 2016)
Christian theologians have spent centuries attempting to explain who Jesus Christ was and is. His salvation and sacrifice. His forgiveness and compassion. His continuing comfort and peace. And many theological doctrines can be helpful as ways for us to experience or to embrace what Christ taught.
But it’s clear to me now, and has been ever since my conversion experience, that these joys of salvation are not things we can arrive at through self-effort. They are not personality changes we ourselves can initiate in any permanent way. And so, as Lewis wrote, we need to stand back each day from our “natural fussings and frettings.” Abandoning our natural pride and self-centered focus, we can then begin “listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in” (Mere Christianity, “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”).
What has helped me in this daily yielding is seeing how often Jesus did it, how many times Christ stepped back, honoring his Father and diminishing himself. He says, for example, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (NIV John 5:19). And yet again Jesus says, “By myself I can do nothing; … for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (NIV John 5:30). And then, of course, at Gethsemane Jesus prays to his Father, saying, “not my will, but yours be done” (NIV Luke 22:42).
This self-abnegation that the Lord practiced towards his Father, so often and so effortlessly, is only possible for you and I now and then, one moment here, one moment there. But, because we are the Father’s “loved and loving children,” abandoning self-interest could occur more and more—if we’d let it. The question then becomes, how available to Christ’s “larger, stronger, quieter life” are we going to allow ourselves to be?