There are few things I love more in this life than thoughtful content — a great movie, powerful book, well-written article, articulate podcast, a TEDTalk, etc. I love thinking, criticizing, discussing and unpacking ideas and systems that surround me. While this can be a beautiful thing it also conceals my greatest defense mechanism — words. Through three syllable words I somehow believe I can earn love, value and trust.
Undoubtedly this is an unhealthy place for me to live, and as I have matured emotionally as well as spiritually, my wall of SAT vocabulary words and pseudo-philosophical logic often stays away. However as my schedule fills up, responsibilities rise and business becomes the trademark of my existence, I find myself falling back into this familiar vice. As I swim in a cocktail of my own insecurity and defensiveness, I am often reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthian church —
“And I, when I came to you, brothers and sisters, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and ofpower, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” [1 Cor 2: 1-5]
“Paul’s words remind my heart and my soul of the only expectation — to glorify and speak of Jesus Christ.”
“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This brilliance of Paul cuts through my favorite facades like a knife — to choose to know nothing except Jesus is to deny myself the perceived protection of my own fears. As painful as this directive can be, I also find it speaks liberating truth to the little child who is hiding behind large words and performance. Paul’s words remind my heart and my soul of the only expectation — to glorify and speak of Jesus Christ. To recognize Jesus as Immanuel, not simply for the Christmas season but the foundation of my sanctification. As much as Paul’s words humble me, there is not a passage of Scripture that I have a more visceral reaction to than the proclamation of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of John:
“Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” [John 20: 15 – 18]
As I move into a new year with new responsibilities, new fears, and new opportunities I beg my soul to align itself with Mary Magdalene and Paul, to proclaim “I have seen the Lord” as the beginning and end of my story, wisdom or preference. To choose to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified for His maximal glory and honor. To join with Mary as she chooses the good portion at Jesus’ feet rather than the hurried service of Martha. To remind the child-like heart of mine Immanuel is with me and is sufficient, perfected even in weakness such as mine.
Blake Dean is a junior religion major with a minor in psychology from Ringgold, Ga. His go-to fun fact is that he is a triplet, and it never ceases to surprises people. He hopes to pursue a future in vocational ministry after college.