“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them”
Epictetus (AD 55 – 135) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave in present day Turkey and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion.
This is the passage I’m reading carefully at the moment:
“If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
An acoustic recording of Martin Smith singing his song Jesus Only You. He writes ‘This moment felt significant, the words of ‘Jesus Only You’ catching the breeze over the City of London.’ He says he was particularly struck by the line ‘You will always have my heart’.
Do you remember the story in the life of Jesus about a young Jewish ruler, wealthy, determined and obviously driven to pursue matters of personal spirituality? He humbled himself enough to ask a question of this renegade Rabbi.
“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
What an opening for any evangelist or well-meaning Christian concerned for the eternal destiny of their target audience. Isn’t this the question of questions?
Look at what Jesus did not give this young man, even though the text goes out of its way to explicitly tell the reader that Jesus loved him. There is no sinner’s prayer, no tract, no formula, no invitation. In fact, initially it seems that Jesus completely ignores his question and asks his own.
“Why do you call me good? There is only One who is good and that is God!”
Certainly Jesus is not trying to say, “I am not good.” He asks the question as an invitation into deeper relationship, to challenge the young man to think beyond performance to something deeper. Effectively Jesus is asking,
“Little brother, do you see good in me? Is that why you addressed me as good teacher? Because if you do, then you are acknowledging that God is in me for there is only One who is the originator of all good and that is God.”
Anywhere you find good in this world you are witnessing the active expression of the activity of God and human participation in the life of God.
Here’s a line from a song we’ve been singing at Explore.
The full words are:
How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is ﬁnished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as his beloved sons and daughters. And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration—a sweet healing fragrance.