Monday, September 03, 2007

Rethinking the Baptist, Rethinking Me

I have always imagined John the Baptist as grizzled and middle-aged. But he wasn't. He was only six months older than his Cousin. And he died before Him. How old would that have made him? 31 or 32? He sat in a jail cell while Christ ministered to others. And he is blessed in his obscurity. He is blessed in becoming less and less. His star fell. And he, happily, though sometimes without understanding, fell with it until his very life was extinguished. And the world went on, following its own path or, even, following Christ. But no longer following John.
     John the Baptist decreased. John the Baptist's life is an exemplar of his teaching. He bowed before obscurity that the Light of the world might be seen all the more clearly.
     I read this morning St Ignatius of Loyola speak of three humilities. I could barely classify myself in the first and lowest humility - the humility to have Christ as Lord. The second and third love obscurity and poverty and the cross. But I am not so humble. I still want to be rich more than I want to be poor. I would still rather be somebody than nobody. I am not a humble man. I am not sure that I want to be. I am not sure that I want to want to be. But therein, I believe, is my salvation.
     This life is not about what we do with ourselves so much as it is about who we are. That is not to say that this life is not about loving. Of course it is. What I mean is that it is not about becoming a success in whatever profession I profess. I count it all as nothing that I might gain Christ. My success is not my ambition. So I change poopy diapers, I attempt to teach pronouns to one daughter and patterns to the next. I clean up other people's messes. Here in this obscurity and lowliness, and only here, can I learn to love and serve God. I am not Christ's unless I am Christ's. And I cannot give Christ to others if I do not possess Him.
     I am a proud man. I sometimes think that I am too proud to be able to call myself a follower of Christ. So now, with no coffee yet in me this Labor Day morning, I want to tell you that I need this blessed obscurity that I have for so long resisted and despised and feared - that I still struggle against. If I were to be famous, perhaps even successful, I would lose my soul.


Courtney said...

Great food for thought on humility. Thanks for sharing.

Dan said...

I like the new masthead photo, and the addition of the photos of the "community." Cool stuff.

Scott Lyons said...

Thanks, Courtney.

Dan, glad you like them. I figured since I didn't carry their pictures in my wallet, I ought to have them somewhere.

onionboy said...

If you haven't already read the Litany of Humility you can find it online at alan creech's place.

It fits your thoughts here.

O | |

kkollwitz said...

God forbid that we should be "successful."

Scott Lyons said...

kkollwitz, thanks for your comment. I considered qualifying this post many times because I imagined some people would come away from it with the impression that you did. I decided to leave it as it was. Please hear me: I am not saying that it is wrong to be successful. I am saying that God is doing a work in my heart that necessitated that I wasn't successful.

Past failure has made me realize the need for this in my life, for my sanctification.

I imagine it has been a season without "success" for me for this very reason.

I hope that helps.