The Advent devotional I read yesterday was by Karl Barth. I found it to be both absolutely fascinating and at times, somewhat confusing. And yet, there was a section that jumped out at me and just didn’t let go. Since it was most likely an excerpt from a greater work, I cannot claim to fully understand it, but I loved these ideas of fully communing with God as we go throughout our life:
“Believing is not something as special and difficult or even unnatural as we often suppose. Believing means that what we listen to, we listen to as God’s speech. What moves us is not just our own concern, but precisely God’s concern. What causes me worry, that is God’s worry, what gives me joy is God’s joy, what I hope for is God’s hope. In other words, in all that I am, I am only a party to that which God thinks and does. In all that I do it is not I, but rather God who is important. Imagine if everything were brought into this great and proper connection, if we were willing to suffer, be angry, love and rejoice with God, instead of always wanting to make everything our own private affair, as if we were alone.
Just imagine if we were to adapt everything that gratifies and moves us into the life and movement of God’s kingdom, so that we personally are, so to speak, taken out of play. Simply love! Simply hope! Simply rejoice! Simply strive! But in everything, do it no longer from yourself, but rather from God! Everything great that is hidden in you can indeed be great only in God…
…We must once and for all give up trying to be self-made individuals. Let us cease preaching by ourselves, being right by ourselves, doing good by ourselves, being sensible by ourselves, improving the world by ourselves. God wants to do everything, certainly through us and with us and never without us; but our participation in what he does must naturally originate and grow out of his power, not ours. O, how we could then speak with one another! For whatever does not grow out of God produces smoke, not fire. But that which is born of God overcomes the world (1 Jn. 5:4).”
I very much want my life to be like that. Like Barth, I have a vision of being “taken out of play,” so that I am simply God’s instrument. That is my picture of dying to self. I’m not sure, of course, exactly what that looks like in my life, but I liked Barth’s ideas.
Quote taken from:
Barth, Karl. “To Believe.” Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. Farmington, PA: Plough Publishing House, 2001. 137-139.