Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lent Day 13: ICON

Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Thirteenth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system.

We have been meditating on it now for twelve + days (becasue Sundays are not included in the 40-day Lent count) and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years, and today, we’re moving back toward talking about the key focus of this season for us: the Primo Credo and the Shema Yisrael.

The focus of our meditation will be on ICON. We will be discussing the concept of being an ICON- and will be exploring what being an “Image-Bearer of Christ” means in the context of a Shema-shaped Spirituality (one that commands love of God with heart, soul mind and strength).

We will be asking ourselves what it means to follow Jesus’ example of Shema-shaped Spirituality.

Following Jesus… We throw the phrase around an awful lot, but do we really stop to think about what this really means? Do we take time to count the cost, or to fully digest the implications of such a thing?

When I was young (and for a time, even when I was older, but not necessarily wiser) I thought that the idea of following Jesus began with a prayer, an intellectual assent…and pretty much ended there. But, tragically, my life didn’t really change. I continued to go to church and do all the things that I saw other people who had made this same affirmation a part of their lives do. (Note here an important word: same.) Same, same, same. I was the same as the others, I swam in the same culture, I hung out with the same kind of people. Truth is, I was the same old self. Self, self, self. This lack of transformation was due to the fact that while I was a believer in Jesus, I was not yet a follower of Jesus.As a mere believer of Jesus, I was missing a very important concept: Jesus was really different, and Jesus calls his followers to that same kind of life-changing difference. In fact, one might even say that the words “SAME” and “SELF” are truly four-letter words to him. Although we might have claimed this difference, I’m now not entirely convinced that we were. Truth be told- we really weren’t much different than those around us. We still worshipped the same cultural idols and still possessed the same values (in fact, it may be that those values actually possessed us). We were still self-absorbed and self-centered. Even our reductionistic conceptualization of salvation was rooted in this self-sustaining, self-preserving mindset.

A lot later in life, I became a Follower of Jesus… I learned that to truly follow Jesus, one has to actually love God the way Jesus does, wholeheartedly; one has to actually do the things Jesus does, like laying down His life for God’s mission; that one has to think in ways that Jesus thinks, which are often counterintuitive, paradoxical, counter-cultural, and frequently make very little sense to others; and finally, one has to love the people that Jesus loves with every fiber of one’s being- and that means a willingness to put our selves aside to be with, harbor, and redeem people whom others might think unsavory. Oh what a difference coming to understand this has made!

Jesus calls to us: “Follow me!” What he is demanding of us involves a complete giving over of everything to him. He calls us to even give over our right to our identities. We are called to take on the nature of Christ, to be in his image, to have his mind. Simply put- we are to die to ourselves and become ICONs of Jesus. Strangely enough, we don’t do this as any cosmic self-improvement scheme, either. Although improvement is a nice perk, the self gets put to the side, and any concept of ‘self-improvement’ appears lackluster in comparison to our true goal. In this endeavor of following Jesus, our chief aspiration is to become Christ’s image-bearers to the world for the improvement of the world and the ultimate glory of God. Ironically, then- that which is improved ultimately is an entire world, not merely one small part of it (me).

As I’ve moved from my understanding of the Gospel being one of microcosmic self-improvement and a plan for my own personal ‘salvation’ and eternal self-preservation, I’ve come to understand a more vibrant, abundant and more full Gospel whose aim is transformation, salvation, and redemption on a much larger scale. I’ve come to a transformational understanding that calls my previous conception of following Jesus into question.
Whereas my prior goal was to achieve eternal life by being conformed to an image of godliness, now I understand that my goal is to allow the Holy Spirit to shape me into the Image of Christ.
As I move from SELF to ICON, I can much more clearly see the difference that Jesus wants to make through transforming our lives to transforming the world…for His glory.


Follow I this day the Father,
Follow I this day the Son,
Guided by The Spirit, Follow I the Three in One.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
In Obedience Every Morning…
In Submission Every Night…
Replicate I with my heart,
Emulate I with my soul,
Imitate I with my mind;
Follow I with my might.

©Tracy B. Dickerson, 2011

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