…but not nearly as frustrating as waiting for me to post the next discussion topic!
Crabb discusses in Chapter Two several ways in which we as Believers approach living the Christian life. He describes some of his frustrations about growing up and “trying” to live the life as a good, moral Christian – but realizing that his efforts were mostly some form of behavior modification or following a certain set of rules.
He contrasts people that he knows that exhibit patterns of behavior that are exemplary with a much smaller set of people whom he can honestly say exhibit the character qualities that he admires.
Where do you fall? What do you see in others? Think of Believers or simply people you know whom you admire and ask yourself what it is about them that you admire? Do they exhibit some form of discipline or good habits that you envy? Do you know anyone that exhibits that type of character traits that one might actually refer to as being Christ-like? Do you see this in yourself?
Honestly – we won’t ever see completely in ourselves the person we know that we can or should be. Yet part of taking that inside look at ourselves is necessary to help us understand accurately who we are and who we are not as Believers walking with the Christ. Crabb refers to the difference as “doing good versus being good.” How does that look in your life? Can you think of ways that you “do good”? Ways that you are merely “being good”? Is one bad and the other good? What’s wrong with discipline, trying, striving, and doing good?
Crabb answers that question like this: “Our Lord made it clear that doing right in His eyes required far more than the performance of certain activities. The entire law, He said, could be summarized in two commands: Love God and love others. We cannot honor these exhortations in even the smallest measure without profound internal change. Moral effort alone can never produce genuine love.”
Let that sink in a bit…Moral effort alone can never produce genuine love. The implications of this statement are far reaching, and we will explore this over time as we progress through the study. In many cases, our moral efforts will end up being exposed as sin. But I am getting ahead of myself…
Crabb next introduces the illustration of the iceberg. He will continue to use and further develop this analogy throughout the next couple chapters. For now, he defines our actions, thoughts, and feelings as the things above the waterline; that is, the things that can be seen or experienced by ourselves and others. The vast majority of our being, however, is below the waterline: our motives, urges, and attitudes which have been profoundly influenced by our life’s experiences – our memories.
Finally, Crabb describes three options for dealing with the “stuff” below the waterline that are generally presented to us by our Christian communities. The first is to simply do our duties – to follow His commands to the letter, and focus our efforts on obedience. To the degree that we are successful in our efforts this will eventually “trickle down” to the stuff below the waterline. The second option is to not only follow His will in obedience, but to also rely on the supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit to deal with the “stuff” below the waterline. The final option requires us to deal directly with the problems that exist below the waterline of our lives, but as Crabb points out too often this inside look (often with counseling) involves working through deep problems rather than repenting of deep sin.
As you reflect on your life, do you see yourself pursuing any of these options? If you’re like me, you’ve done all three! Yet something was still missing; somehow God still required more of me, and I desperately wanted to find a way to make it all work. What is this real, inside-out change all about?