“I was by no means innocent, either, of the slow supplanting drift by which means to our most cherished and noble ends become the ends themselves-so that, for instance, writing something to change the world becomes writing something that matters to you becomes publishing something halfway decent becomes writing something publishable; or, to give another arbitrary example, finding everlasting love becomes finding somewhat lasting love becomes finding a reasonable mix of tolerance and lust becomes finding a sensible social teammate. And of course with each recalibration you think not that you are trading down or betraying your values but that you are becoming more mature. And maybe you are. Maybe you are doing the best you can. But what is true is that one day you wake up dead.”[Greg Jackson, Prodigals]
I went to see you the other day. It wasn’t a particularly nice day, meaning sunny and warm. However, there was something in the air I couldn’t get enough of. It was salty. Very much like the sea breeze wafting fresh fish and saltwater from the surface of the deep. What I am saying is I was basically at the beach while visiting the graveyard. Who knew right? How ironic it is one of the only places you wouldn’t know Covid even existed is among the community of the dead, no restrictions- no six feet apart, just six feet under.
Honestly, I was partly hoping to be inspired with something to write about. How prideful and selfish is that. “Life from the grave” was such a powerful and impactful letter. As much as I do not want our letters to be about me (not in the sense of pertaining to me, because obviously I tell of events in my life, but rather feeding self-gratification), I cannot always help it.
“Fandom is the most powerful drug on the planet.”[The Narrow Road by Dee-1 and Christon Gray]
Addiction comes in all forms. Some more subtle than others. The commonality among all its forms is devastation and destruction. After Jesus was crucified, His disciples were preaching the good news of the resurrection and were threatened by the Jewish leaders to stop. One of the members of the Jewish elite cautioned the leaders not to kill the disciples, reminding them of previous men, who rose and gathered a following, ultimately fell apart. Their cause was of men and men, left to themselves, have a great capacity for self-destruction. If the cause of the disciples was of God, as it seemed to be since Jesus was killed and their fervor was all the more undaunted, then it would be an act against God to kill the disciples.
Addiction to obtaining glory from men only ends in self-destruction, regardless how great the crowd is. But oh, how desirable it is. Bring on the crowds and fans. How instantly gratifying it is to be seen by peers and regarded highly by those you highly regard. How easily it is to measure our value by likes, comments and views. Jesus had thousands of people following Him, mostly for what He could do for them, though only twelve He called Himself, to pour Himself into.
It is a good thing to use the gifts and talents God has given us. It is a good thing to share them with others. He graciously gives them and tells us to use them. However, we must be vigilant to the “slow supplanting drift,” the tide pulling us ever so gently to letting His gifts become the ends for ourselves rather than the means for Him.
“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:29-30]
When Jesus began His ministry, people were flocking in great numbers to Him to be healed and baptized. Less people were coming to John to be baptized. John’s disciples mentioned this to him, and the above was his response. How beautiful and humbling this is. John’s ministry was all about proclaiming the Christ, witnessing to Him. He was the voice crying out in the desert. In the goodness and holiness of his ministry, in his servitude to God’s purposes, John understood the “most cherished and noble end” was Jesus. Even though what John was doing was good, he says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Not just decrease but rejoice at the bridegroom’s voice, rejoice in His increasing. Rejoice in my decreasing.
“I (Jesus) do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.” [John 5:42]
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” [John 5:44]
When we seek glory from men, we trade in love for God. How can we truly believe and take in the Word of God when we are filling ourselves with more of ourselves? Jesus says the He doesn’t entrust Himself to man because He knows man. Do we not know ourselves well enough to understand we are sick? That our condition is quite desperate? How painfully and agonizingly apparent it must have been to Jesus, God made flesh. His very divine skin must have been literally crawling. Yet, He did not claim equality with the Father a thing to be grasped. He was a man, and He came for men.
This, then, is the result. Salt loses its savor. We succumb to the slow supplanting drift and give away the everlasting Love for “sensible social teammates.” We subdue ourselves in tepidness and bathe in the soft soap of man. We trade the Word for sweet talk and a good review. No wonder all we become is something to be thrown out and trampled. Gag me.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” [Matthew 5:13]
The air was so inviting that day because it was salty. John remained salty letting Jesus be Jesus and John be John. Rejoicing in the bridegroom and rejoicing in his own decrease. Addiction to the glory of men only increases me. This would be quite agreeable if I was not so keen to the whole of my humanity. I am aware of what is right, though so often I do not do it. I desire goodness but am often drawn to the shadows. I am sick, indeed, and I cannot expect any less or more from my fellow human beings. They do not have what I need to remain salty.
I love to write, and I know, by the grace of God, I am talented. Even in the goodness of writing, endeavoring as purely as possibly the reflection of God’s righteousness, I do not keep my savor. It is only by everlasting Love I am flavored. And every time I give this away when I seek the glory of men. There is no maturity in this. No applaud for best efforts. I wake up dead, and my social teammates are no where to be found.
Salt is a preservative. It, not writing or man or anything else, is meant to preserve my identity. Keeps me from drifting and letting servitude of the most High God become servitude of Lauren. Having confidence in this, I become addicted to only the glory of the One who saw me before I was born, knows my name and all the hairs on my head and sent Himself to come for me.
No soft soap.