In spite of the good we experience in the world, we know it is not entirely good. Our experience of life tells us that the world is a combination of good and evil.
According to the Bible, the world was created good by God, but has been corrupted by the sin of angels and humans. We live in a fallen world.
One of the ways we see this corruption at work is the selfishness that exists in people. The worst selfishness that we are exposed to is the selfishness that exists in our own hearts.
Many of the problems that we face throughout life, both big and small, can be traced back to selfishness.
This reality is understandable when we remember that we spend our entire lives with ourselves. Our entire perspective on life centers around our experience of the world. It is logical to expect that our comfort, cares, and desires would be at the forefront of what we are most concerned about.
Christian spiritual formation is important because it calls us to lay aside our cares and concerns and adopt the cause of Jesus. For this to happen we have to intentionally lay aside our rights and desires. It is through those process we are able to understand the injustices and indignities inflicted and the rest of humanity.
Dallas Willard wrote:
“Apprentices of Jesus will be deeply disturbed about many things, but they will be largely indifferent to the fulfillment of their own desires as such. Merely getting their own way has no significance for them, does not disturb them.”
Renovation of the Heart, p. 72Pause for a moment and ponder: What disturbs you?
When I think about what disturbs me on a regular basis I am saddened. I am saddened because I get the most disturbed by the inconveniences and interruptions to my agenda.
God has shown me this reality through my children. I dearly love my three kids, but they have the ability of frustrating me like no one else does. Why is that?
I get frustrated, I get disturbed, because they have minds of their own and they don't always do what I ask them to do. They disrupt my plan and that bothers me.
What is the cure for that? The cure is to become like Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote:
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.Here we discover the goal of Christian spiritual formation: to develop the attitude of Jesus.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:3-5; NLT)
Key to this attitude is humility. It is having that ability to look past our own agenda and see the needs of other people. We are to take an interest in the lives of those around us.
One of my favorite passages for the Gospels is Matthew 9:36:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (NLT)Jesus was disturbed by the needs of the people around him. He didn't blame them for their condition or lecture them about the inconvenience they were causing him, but he had compassion on them. They needed help and he took time to help them.
One of the prayers we need to pray in our pursuit of Christian formation is to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. We need to see the things that disturb Jesus so we can learn what should be disturbing us as well.