Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Jan. 21, 2005.
During the past few weeks of studying the Gospels, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern in Christ’s teachings. I’ve come to think of them as principles that call for living an upside-down life.
What He taught flies in the face of most humanistic thinking. In order to live, we have to die to ourselves — like a seed planted in the ground. It has to give up its identity and be transformed into a plant that bears fruit for the good of others.
In order to find our lives, we have to lose them by investing them in God’s work and in the lives of others.
In order to receive, we have to give.
To be free and live a truly liberated life, we must take up His cross and carry it wherever we go. To experience forgiveness, we need to forgive others.
Christ’s teachings on servanthood are pretty clear — the way up is down. “If you want to be great in My kingdom,” He said, “learn to be the servant of all.”
This is not a lifestyle for spiritual wimps.
I recently read a story about St. Patrick, whose missionary work in Ireland is legendary.
On one occasion during a baptismal service he was conducting in a lake, the great saint invited each candidate to wade out to him to be baptized.
He held a large crosier — a tall metal staff with a pointed end on the bottom and a cross at the top.
As he was baptizing a mountain chieftain, St. Patrick leaned on his staff for balance, pushing it into the bottom of the water bed.
People on shore noticed the chief was limping considerably as he came up out of the water.
When St. Patrick realized he must have stabbed the chief’s foot during the baptism, he went to him immediately and apologized.
“Why did you not cry out when I struck your foot?” the saint asked.
“I remembered how you told us about the nails in the hands and feet of Jesus,” the chief replied. “I thought the pain was part of my baptism.”
Most of us came to faith without physical pain. Few of us realized for a while what discipleship — becoming true followers of the Christ — involves.
One Christian writer has observed there is “too much wimp in our walk.” We cave in to the slightest pressure, complain at the first sign of stress in our Christian walk and whine when the going gets rough.
I know. If they gave an Olympic award for the wimpiest Christian, I’d take home the gold.
As I’ve tried to walk closer as His disciple, however, I’ve found His principles outlined in the Sermon on the Mount are absolutely true. His way of doing things is infinitely better than mine.
I know from experience that when I plant seeds in the upside-down life, I begin to grow right-side up.