The recounting of John the Baptists first seeming competition between him and Jesus is an interesting metaphor of how our spiritual lives work. He states simply “he must increase, while I decrease.” Furthermore St.Paul in his letter to the Galatians puts it, ” It is no longer I who do this, but Christ who does this in me.. for me to live is Christ.” That he nor Peter said WWJD is very defining. Some have confused this with Jesus is inside us which should be a very scary thing if it were true. Well what about when Jesus said “I will be IN You?” As creepy as that sounds that’s actually what some have thought it to mean, i mean like somehow He is in them.. which is not only creepy but scary too.. It doesn’t seem like that though to those that have been persuaded that they are basically dog dung except for his grace.
You see the intrinsic worth that that the psalmist imbues into an inherent state is forgotten with this sense of false modesty at worst and irresponsible posturing at best. Cultish and muddle headed christian thought leaders across time culminating in to todays travesty have been adopted to a true confusion of even adequate self worth and esteem for God’s part of the transactional nature of even every day life these days. But what is to be said of the little “i?
In these last few years I’ve found some interesting thoughts in eastern philosophy where the “i” is no one, it is “practically” nothing.. and yet it is also apparently part of everything. One guru stated it this way, you are a bubble filled with all the star stuff of the universe and when you cease to be you just enter back into the vastness. Though there is a genuinely comforting aspect of this much like the Christian idea of all one in Christ .. there too can be an unhealthy set of boundaries and responsibility around it.
The idea of the “flesh” in christian thought that translates to this strange meaning in the original text as simply something that is flexible, porous, but also very vulnerable also belies both a context and substance we often miss in our culture and evaluation of ourselves and correspondent lives. At once it might seem easy when horrific words are used as to “crucify” the flesh, and others that we must carry our “cross” daily.. black and white.. no pain no gain right? Unfortunately this only works a little of the time for most.
In recent years we’ve all heard of something called the butterfly effect, that a small shift of a wing can cause a tsunami at the other end of the world. Though it seems rather fanciful it may be good to see that our tiny actions can have ripple effects. In my experience though i already tend to have an overactive conscience so it makes me even more nervous. I guess each person needs to figure out for themselves whats best. That’s why the Spirits deal is an inside job, not of judgement though, more like assessment and figuring out better more aspiring ways.
For me the small “i” is that i’m not in a position to effect many most of the time. My daily interactions are interspersed with others in their social media and distraction filled lives. What I say may just be little more than a sound byte. If another bothers to really listen to you or me it’s truly surprising if it changes anything in the way either of us do anything. Sure there’s such thing as a cumulative effect and I think God’s Spirit can have a drastic impact on how that comes together or not. That’s why prayer is a game changer, mostly because God has made something of situations dependent on whether we do or do not ask. Some might say this is kinda strong arming, but i see it as more of we’ve been given true autonomy in this little lives of ours.
The strong persuasion of St. Pauls to “make your ambition to lead quiet lives and work with your hands” I see as the best for properly addressing the small “i” and living with a certain level of trust in the mystery of life, gratitude for what we can, and subsequent of enjoyment. The small “i” is something that we can content ourselves in. To know that if we are to really have an effect it probably is usually despite all our best efforts and intentions.