Recently a friend of mine, and my second favorite Enneagram teacher, Cameron Clark shared an image of a tweet with this question, “What if all this time it wasn’t a matter of denying Christ with one question in front of a shooting squad to save your life. But instead it was a series of questions over the course of your life in which you deny Christ to save your power, your comfort and your pride?”
The question highlights a variant of a something you may have heard before, something along the lines of, “If you are facing a firing squad and in order to save your own life you must deny Christ, what do you choose?”
There are a handful of phrases/questions like this that you would hear from time to time growing up in the Bible belt. I think the intent was to challenge people to consider the intensity of their commitment to Jesus. In my experience, these analogous sentiments seemed to be reserved for that dramatic moment during a youth rally.
“If you died tonight, do you know where you would end up?”
“In line to enter the gates of heaven, you look over and see your friend in the line to enter hell. What will you say when they ask, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’”
“Every time you give in to temptation it’s like you are nailing Jesus to the cross all over again.”
If you have never heard these types of statements, I apologize, the subsequent several posts might not mean much to you. If you are familiar with these lines, I apologize again.
I’ll confess, I have used these types of phrases as a teacher, minister and pastor, mostly during the season of ministry during my 20s. The irony is that I was also a victim of these types of lines during my youth. They set a tone for a certain type of theology, a way of understanding and relating to God. I have spent recent years allowing God to re-frame my understanding and that continues to unfold. I have also spent the last several years working with people that have had to unpack and peel back layers of religious funk, realizing that how we engage with God and how we believe God engages with us, is the underpinning of all our responses and relationships, especially our relationship with ourselves.
I thought it might be neat, in this new year, to explore possible new views. Let’s take a look at some of these statements, and just as the tweet/post Cameron shared, let’s explore a re-frame, a new view.
As much as I enjoy writing/sharing in a vacuum (sarcasm), I also thought it would be equally as neat to discuss these topics with Mr. Clark adding his voice. With a very different background than me, I love his perspective. Cam always brings an honest and challenging evaluation of how we enact our ideals and beliefs. Also, he’s a super smarty pants, so it forces me to use a dictionary to keep up.
The above “what if” offers a challenge by removing the dramatics of a life and death situation and guiding us to see how we possibly put our own power, comfort and pride before our commitment to Christ, without the pressure of a firing squad. Let’s start there…
Add any phrases that you remember experiencing in the comments below. We may end up discussing what you share.