Getting Closer

Getting Closer

Oct 10
Getting Closer

I have a “movie curse” – in almost every movie, my favorite character will die.  It’s become a joke among those who know me.  I can lean over to someone during a movie and whisper, “That character is going to die” and they know I like that character (who then dies).  Sometimes I’ll say, “I wish I didn’t like that character.”  In my favorite movie, “The Man in the Iron Mask,” my favorite character dies.  His death results in one of the best scenes in the film.  While kneeling over him, another character glares at the one who killed him and says, “All my life, all I ever wanted to be… was him.”

This is very much how I feel about Jesus.  I have dedicated my life to trying to be more and more like Him.  I’m still not even close to being like Him, but I believe I can safely say that I’m more like Jesus than most people are.

Some life experiences lately have had me reflecting on what that means.  I thought I’d take a moment to share what I’m learning.

I have come to the conclusion that if you live like Jesus, you shouldn’t be surprised if you have a similar life, or similar troubles.  To my surprise, I have found that this helps me deal with some of the trials of life.  My King suffered for doing good.  It is an honor to be treated as He was.

That’s what I remember on my good days.  On my strong, faithful days.  To be honest, I don’t have as many of those as I would like.  Too often I lament what I’m going through and I complain rather than taking it as encouragement that perhaps I’m actually following in His footsteps.

I have been not only accused but judged (in the true sense of the term) on multiple occasions.  I have been declared a “false teacher.”  I have had to defend myself before church leaders more than once.  I have been condemned because of something I said, quite often without anyone asking me a single question.  People have moved to the other side of the room when I sat down.

I can think of at least one person who would have stoned me.

I was once told that I need to get a thicker skin if I’m going to keep teaching – this from a man who wouldn’t so much as shake my hand when I told him I was going to start attending a different church.  I still don’t think I’ve developed that thicker skin, despite understanding the usefulness.

I’m weird.  I don’t fit in.  Few people understand me and of the ones who believe they do only a handful actually do.  I speak out about culture and politics and norms, but not in the way that people seem to want me to.  I have a tendency to condemn what many hold sacred and to defend what many consider abhorrent.  I am constantly misunderstood, even when I think I’ve said something plainly.

I am surrounded by people who demand more and more of my time and attention.  There are a lot of people who treat me like a commodity – like something that needs to be consumed and maximized for one’s personal benefit and enjoyment.  It takes effort to get away or to have time with just those who build me up and encourage me.  There are way more people who want something from me than there are people who are willing to give to me.  I’m often treated like a well with no bottom.

(Selfishly, I confess that I wish there were more “Mary’s” in my life.)

This probably sounds like I’m complaining.  If so, I apologize – that isn’t at all my intention.  I say these things because I feel like the more I try to be like Jesus, the more my life seems to resemble His.

I’m not saying I’m Jesus.  This isn’t me saying that I’m better or holier than anyone else.  I’m painfully aware of how inadequate I am.

What I’m trying to say is that as we become more like Christ, as we draw closer to Him, it should come as no surprise if our lives start to resemble His.  After all, He did say, “Follow me.”

Jesus didn’t live the American Dream.  I’m becoming increasingly convinced that I shouldn’t either.  It’s resulting in continuous “growing pains” as I try to bring my life into closer alignment with His.

I highly doubt that I’m ever going to be called on to die for anyone, but I “die” metaphorically all the time.  I frequently sacrifice myself for the good of someone else.  I’m still working on being more gracious about it.  I try to teach people what I’m learning.  I’m trying to be more loving.  I try to seek relationship above everything – even above being right.

It’s all because of how I believe Jesus lived.  I can think of no greater way to honor my King than to try to live like Him.  I cannot claim to live like Him.  At best, I try.  Sometimes I just want to try.  Sometimes I don’t try at all.  I hope with all my heart that my bumbling brings Him joy.  I want to give Him the greatest honor that I can, despite knowing how far short it falls.

And so I’m learning to try to find joy in the struggles of my life, especially those that resemble His.  I hope that this brief article encourages you to do the same.  Please forgive me if this sounded like I’m trying to promote myself or pat me on the back, or if this was too self-indulgent.  I don’t think I’ll promote this story on social media.

I want to close with lyrics from one of my favorite Billy Joel songs.  While the song is about his personal journey in the music industry, it parallels well with my walk with Christ.  The song is called “Getting Closer.”  Here are the words that resonate with me:

 

And although you will say

I am still too naïve

But I have not lost faith

In the things I believe

And if I don’t have this all worked out

Still I’m getting closer, getting closer

I still have far to go no doubt

But I’m getting closer, getting closer

2 comments

  1. Nancy Weems

    Chris, wow, I just say wow. Great piece. I feel like apologizing as one that might of taken your skills for granted. Sorry if I caused you any grief. Work on warrior. Thanks for all you give. Nancy

    • Thank you for the kind words, Nancy. You do not owe me anything, except maybe love. Certainly not an apology, but thank you nonetheless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *