“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
Luke 12:22-34 contrasts two contradictory mindsets; one that strives after the way of the world, and one that follows in the footsteps of the Kingdom. As we listen in on Jesus teaching his disciples, we discover that the way of the world is characterized by anxiety and fear; If you’re familiar with the story of Abraham and his sons, we could call it “striving” to produce Ishmael rather than waiting patiently for Isaac.
The way of the Kingdom “waits for the LORD,” “hopes in his steadfast love,” and “trusts in his name” (cf. Psalm 33). It “considers him who promised to be faithful” (Hebrew 11:11). Because it trusts in a generous God who gives lavishly to all, it likewise gives lavishly considering of first importance those who have nothing.
Jesus said it was in losing our lives that we would find them. Perhaps this is much of what he meant; in stepping outside of ourselves we discover true life as if for the first time. What if Kingdom life has less to do with eternity and more to do with quality of life (for lack of a better term) here and now. Put differently, the example of Christ invites us to utterly forsake our old way of life, and in doing so discover a vibrant life disentangled from the dominant narrative of self-obsessed consumption; a life free from approval addiction, self-promotion, vanity, self-pity; a life lived truly in the moment, for the sake of others, free to more fully love God and neighbor.
The person most at peace with their true self–the one intimately known and loved by God with all its flaws and imperfections–is the one who is most free of self, and thus the most free to truly live.
In case you were wondering, I fail at this daily. My life is a near constant masquerade, I am recklessly self-absorbed, chronically impatient, and dangerously short tempered. Though I long to know myself as simply “one who is beloved of God” I am more likely to define myself by my vocation, denomination, education, bibliography, or any other number of things. In a way, this new season is a great blessing; once again I am ecclesiastically homeless, my “career” in ministry indefinitely on hold, and I am now a two-time seminary dropout… In other words: much of how I defined myself has been stripped away; I am forced to come face-to-face with my deep woundedness and wait for the voice of God that reassures me that even in the midst of this, I am his; by his Spirit he has claimed me as his own, and nothing can separate me from his love… how great the mystery of grace!