This blog has been hard to write for a variety of reasons. The most important one is that I feel like the best thing to do is just to quote the whole chapter. This is a book worth reading.
Where are you going? My assumption is that we are all pursuing what we desire. Our actions indicate that often our desires are not aligned with God’s desire for us. Most of us want to be significant in some way. We even get confused when we think of wanting to be like Jesus. He is the most significant and famous person who ever lived. What we forget is that this isn’t what He desired. Out His love for us and His Father He simply wanted to obey and humbly carry out His mission. Satan tempted Him to seek fame at the beginning of His ministry and He rejected that temptation. Wilbourne argues that what Jesus wanted was to demonstrate to us what it looks like to be human, the best human possible.
That’s what his brothers and sisters with disabilities taught Henri Nouwen—that in receiving, in letting ourselves be loved and loving in return, only then are we becoming human. This posture of humility and vulnerability is not the horizon we naturally set for ourselves. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
God’s desire is for us to become more human. Our sinful desire is to become divine and immortal. That is Satan’s desire. This is all connected. I think we have a very distorted idea of what it means to be fully human, the way God intended us to be when He created us. We think of strength, creativity, brilliance, attractiveness, and the list goes on. We desire these things and pursue the ones we can pursue. The characteristics that are determined by our DNA frustrate us, especially if our desire is for something other than being the best human God created us to be.
Sin is abiding in something other than Jesus to give us significance and joy. In terms of our last chapter, sin is constructing an identity around anything other than God. Sin is that which defaces the image of God in us and keeps us from flourishing. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
I know I’m not unusual, but it is still disturbing to realize that I have spent most of my life seeking significance in things that aren’t Jesus. It is at times like this that I am grateful for God’s grace. It isn’t that this message is unclear in scripture. Jesus tells us directly to abide in Him. Paul tells us to set our eyes on things above.
And because of Jesus, we now know what that image looks like. He rescued you in order that you might become fully human. This idea is captured in a single verse: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). Why are you here? To become like Jesus. What are you here? To become a human being. That’s your new horizon. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
We do have a disadvantage. We live in a time when we are bombarded with images. Many of you carry and image creating and displaying device with you everywhere you go. Most of those images are designed to direct your desires away from God’s desire for us. God wants me to be like Jesus and He is actively working to make that happen. My prayer is that my desire will become God’s desire so that I can be content and rest.
This means we will become people who prize relationships. For relationship, even and especially difficult relationships, are the school in which we learn to deny ourselves and love others. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
That’s what Jesus, the best human who ever lived, spent His whole life doing. He denied Himself and loved others. He even intentionally gathered a bunch of misfits around Him, so that He could show us what could be accomplished with a bunch of imperfect and irritating people. He even included someone who would betray Him and get Him crucified. It is hard to desire to be a human like Jesus.