Lately I don’t feel that comfortable in my skin. And that is a good thing. In some ways, I feel like what I imagine a butterfly or moth must experience when they are making their way out of their cocoon or chrysalis. I’m trying to spread my wings, but I am coming up against some resistance. My mind tries to tell me that it would be easier if the resistance would go away. But if you know anything about these mysterious creatures, it’s that the resistance that they go through trying to break out of their cocoon is exactly what strengthens their wings so that they will be able to fly. Conscious of this, I do my best to embrace the tensions that show up in my life, because I know that their purpose is just to exercise my potential to the point where it can be fully actualized in the world.
The Book of James says:
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
How many of us count our trials as joys? How can the author of James say that? Doesn’t he know what some of us have been through? I will tell you that I don’t know too many people who consider the challenges that they go through to be of service to them in any way. Many of us take every little discomfort as a slight and an injustice. It comes from a spirit of entitlement and it is pervasive. And even when we bring some of the things we go through on ourselves, there is usually a trail of blame that we can follow that is designed to absolve us from any responsibility for our experience.*
If that is the route we are going to take, then James is not going to make a whole lot of sense to us. Unless you are someone who has come in contact with the awareness that within each of us is the utmost potential to transcend anything that we might come up against in this life, James may sound somewhat unreasonable or insensitive. He will only make sense to those of us who have decided to live our lives toward the realization that we are more than the worst thing that has happened to us or the worst thing that we have ever done. This is the first step on the path to deciding to–as Paul put it–put on Christ. He is talking to those of us who are not satisfied with merely worshiping Christ, but those of us who are willing to Christ i.e. those of us who desire to be more than believers–those of us who are willing to be be-ers of what Christ taught. (See Romans 8) He is talking to people who see Christ as a demonstrable verb.
Most people would rather simply worship Jesus than be like him.
How do you Christ?
As I see it, flying is to caterpillars as Christing is to humans. It is what we were made to do. And again, I am not talking about religion here. I am talking about that taking up your cross and bearing it with love Christing now. What is Christing? It is being in the world as Jesus was in the world. And how was Jesus in the world? Jesus was salt and light. In a rap I wrote, there is a part that goes:
We’re the Salt and the Light
So we gotta bring that shine
Don’t conform to the world
Be renewed in the mind
The faith generation
Doesn’t need a sign
The whole game changes
When we get realigned
So grab on to the garment
And don’t let go
‘Cause a Life without Christ
Is like a light without glow
Salt and Light
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” – Jesus of Nazareth
For too many years I have heard so many of us saying we love Jesus and follow Jesus and do this and that in the name of Jesus. But I have one question for us:
If so many of us are following Jesus, how come he is the only Christ that you ever hear people talking about?
If someone was supposed to be following you, but they never ended up where you were or at least somewhere behind you, would you say that they were following you? Or if you said that you were trusting someone to lead you in the right direction, meanwhile, every chance you got, you went in a different direction; would you expect them to believe you were trying to get where they are going? No, you wouldn’t? And yet billions of people are supposed to be following Jesus. OK. Following him where?
In 1 John 4, it specifically says the words, “…as he is, so are we in this world,” when referring to the Spirit of God in Jesus. Here’s more of it in context.
So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.(vv. 16-18)
“Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, who almost every Christian denomination claims as their own, made it very clear what he thought about this–if we are not becoming Christs then what is the point of saying we follow Christ? The first time I read those words, I remember feeling shocked that someone came out and said plainly what I sensed in my spirit all of my conscious life. It confirmed for me that becoming Christs and Christing through our encounters in life is simply the natural state of fulfillment of our highest potential as human beings. Christ is the most evolved aspect of who we are as spiritual beings and the Christ within each of us desires more than anything to shine as bright as we possibly can.
Of course, most of us have never been explicitly told that we can Christ. And many others have been told quite the opposite–regardless of what the Bible demonstrates. For this reason we might be less than confident in the idea that we are to be Christlings capable of living as Jesus was in the world. But do you think a caterpillar knows what it is like to fly. No. It just goes with the flow of nature being the best caterpillar it can be until it is butterfly time. That’s when they let go of the world as a caterpillar and surrender to the process of transformation into a flying marvel. Likewise, we are made to love and be loved and to be transformed in the process. We know what it is like when we are not giving or receiving love purely. Christing is fundamentally loving everyone as you would like to be loved and going where that love leads. And where it leads is to something more beautiful than words or religion can contain.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Paul of Tarsus
For Jesus of Nazareth, Christing meant going to a Cross on Calvary. Let’s face it. Most of us will have it a whole lot easier. But I think that is exactly why he did it. He didn’t die so that we can remain in fear of our transformation. He died so we can live and love our ways through it and inspire others to do the same. That was his fullest expression of love. For this reason, our expression of casting out fear with love may be as simple as speaking up when we see someone being treated unjustly or creating transcendent art that reminds people that there is something amazing in them that wants to shine. Or it could just mean spending quality time with loved ones without a device in our hands or encouraging others to live into their potential. There are literally infinite ways to fearlessly express loving others as we desire to be loved. And that is Christing in a nutshell.
As you go through your day, look for opportunities to Christ. If there is any tension, ask yourself, “How can I Christ this situation?” It is similar to as asking “What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD?)”, with the added element that in asking this question, we are acknowledging that we have the potential to do what is required in love.
*I acknowledge that there are many instances where we have been traumatized by an experience and may feel that we are not capable of seeing a way beyond the challenge. My prayer is that you will feel safe enough to acknowledge where you are without determining that you are defined by the trauma.