An obvious truth - the trajectory of our life takes us from smaller to larger. Born at 5 to 7 pounds, we mark healthy growth by getting bigger. And of course, our lives are enlarged in various ways. More stuff in our garage, more certificates on our walls, more names in our address book, more data to manage and more responsibilities to carry. Life's graph is an upward slope, tracking our increase. So, it jolts us when God tells us to flip that chart upside down. The trajectory of our soul on faith's journey is from larger to smaller.
You can point to any number of Biblical references to prove this reversal. We are to "deny ourselves". We find our lives by "losing our lives". And with a clarity that I find uncomfortable, Paul says that this life of faith is a life of crucifixion. He states in Galatians that we all are crucified with Jesus. As we are fleshing out our days, Jesus lives in us and through us. His life is to be so dominant that it could be said our lives are not really about us - but Him. So you can see why I feel a bit uncomfortable.
I prefer my life to be about me. I can deal with the notion that Jesus wants to make a better me. I certainly can use the improvement. But if I hear the verse rightly - Jesus wants me to get out of the picture completely. There is no me - there is only Christ! "And I live no longer but Christ lives in me." It's true that my face remains on my driver's license - but the shaping of my soul requires a new re-ordering of my identity. I am no longer the independent spirit who measures the quality of his life by its increase. I am to get out of the way and let Jesus live His life through me - as if my life really did belong to Him. He must increase and I must decrease.
So what does it take for me to get smaller? Paul said he lived a life cloaked with Jesus - by faith. It takes faith to become smaller. And faith addresses fear. We are afraid that if Jesus gets bigger we will be short changed. Worse, the finite may be overwhelmed by the infinite to the point of insignificance- becoming nothing. So, we cling to our identity by pushing it up front. It takes faith to let go. And that faith is grounded in love. Paul writes that we can trust the One who loves us and gave Himself for us. Paul knew that Jesus loved him. He loves you, too. So, when fears shout at us - Jesus whispers His love. Jesus asks for our lives out of His infinite love for us. And that is not small at all.