agitated at the gap

as I’ve been writing this series of posts on Luke’s Jesus, I’ve been deeply challenged. Disturbed even. Basically every story Luke has told about Jesus involves him crossing some kind of boundary line: social, economic, ethnic, religious. But never simply for novelty’s sake. It is always an act of compassion motivated by love for the other. Somehow Jesus of Nazareth was able embody and express a genuine others-centered-life, a life that was deeply scandalous to many around him.

I found myself drawn towards his critique of the religious elite of his day: they are stingy, petty, legalistic, inward-focused, more concerned about the preservation of social boundary lines than the pain and plight of others. I also enjoyed the depiction of the dim-witted disciples, always jockeying for position and honor in Jesus’ eyes. Never really getting what he was all about.

But my attraction and enjoyment was dismantled today, as I started reading Parker Palmer’s, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life (Don’t read this book if you’re satisfied with your life, it will only shake things up!) Run with me here: It is an exploration of our inner-life, the life of our souls. Most of us, as we get older, become more and more out of touch with who we really are inside, our true identity. A child knows how to be who they really are inside, it’s natural. But as we get older, we all become more and more tempted to play roles for others, ones that get us respect, cash, accomplishment, etc. And so many of us find ourselves in places, vocations, and life situations that are out of sync with who God made us to be, with our truest selves. In fact, as the years go by, many of us simply forget who we really are, we become our public selves. It’s actually easier to forget our true selves because sustaining the hope of an integrated life only reminds us of the painful gap between who we truly are and the role we play in the so-called real world. It’s easier to live as “false selves.”

This creates a unique situation, one that I found myself in as I reflected on Luke’s Jesus. My attraction to Jesus’ critique of the religious elite, is really an act of projection. It’s aimed at others, which feels better, but actually speaks to things rattling around inside my own heart, that is, if I’m willing to go there. Jesus exposes the yawning gap between my public self, and who I really am inside. That hurts, so I find ways to keep it superficial. As John English puts it in his Spiritual Pilgrims.

Those things we cannot accept in ourselves, we project upon others. If I do not admit my shadow side, I will unconsciously find another who will carry my shadow for me. Once this projection is made, then I need not be upset with myself. My problems are now outside and I can fight them out there, rather than within the real arena, myself.

Luke’s Jesus lived a life that was full-on for others, particularly those whom no one else in society wants to be around. People I don’t want to be around.

No resolution yet. This is just how I feel today. Not a bad place to be, I guess.

Still, I liked it better when I didn’t feel like a Pharisee.


~ by tmackie on August 26, 2009.

2 Responses to “agitated at the gap”

  1. Hi Tim. I left another reply but I don’t think it went through. Anyway, I appreciate your honesty and pursuit. This same reality (If I understand properly what you are seeing) is what caused me to check out of doing church and choosing to live in the kingdom. I think the process of “church” creates a dishonest economy where we are not free to be the real us created in Christ and certianly it seems that the real us in Chirst is not what they reward either. The “real us in Christ” I am defining as that person with a renewed mind and spirit that seeks to say and do what Father is saying nd doing. It wasn’t popular in Jesus’ day and it’s not popular today either. Keep going Tim there is Gold just ahead if you keep digging. Love Dad

    • thanks for the note. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on these themes lately, with the help of Parker Palmer, author of ‘Let Your Life Speak’. Woah.

      Great to hear from you, love you lots.

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