It’s great to receive a gift… and it’s even better to give one. This is a truism often said, but this doesn’t diminish the truth – it really is better to give than receive! You see, when we give away something we get something back… something not easily defined but something very real. We feel so good – yes there may be a bit of smugness in that feeling, but the feeling really is good! Giving away, whether its time, something material or a conversation – always does us good. Never fails. As surely as night follows day, the practice of ‘giving away’ enhances the experience of life. Wow!
Our religion is not really a belief system, but a life and death system which shows us how to give away our lives, how to give away our love, and eventually how to give away our death. The ‘believing’ part of our religion is always secondary to the practice of ‘giving away’.
We are told in one of the earliest hymns in the Christian church, that Jesus ‘emptied himself’ and ‘humbled himself’… ‘to the point of death – even death on a cross’. In this Jesus shows us the pathway. To find the secret of this life, you have to ‘give away’. The language used in the hymn cited above (from Philippians 2) pulls no punches – Jesus is ‘emptied’, he is ‘humbled’ in this giving away. And in it all there is salvation. This ‘giving away’ as demonstrated in Jesus is something so real and tangible and yet something so beautiful. His mother Mary, we are told, just looks on as she sees what her son is doing – the emptying of himself.
In Jesus teaching he is explicit about what we have to do – we have to lose our lives in order to find them, to be a disciple we must carry our cross (referring to this emptying). The emphasis placed on loving God and our neighbour (even our enemies) again underlines the requirement to ‘give away’. You cannot love without ‘letting go’. To love means to give away our time, our attention, our preoccupations – without any regard for getting anything back. When we catch this truth and it becomes the practice of our lives, we are blessed in ways we wouldn’t even imagine, but when we miss it and continue to ‘hold on’ to our need to ‘control’ and ‘order’ events, people and just life, well we do grievous damage to ourselves, to those around us and the bigger environment of our lives.
This is what our religion is really all about. The courage to ‘give away’. We love to set the agenda, and order the things we have to do. In life this will invariably form a major part of our lives, but when it becomes necessary to our well being, we’re in deep trouble. The need to control, to set the direction will gnaw away at something integral to us. We will be diminished. But when we learn to be comfortable in releasing the reins, to just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ we connect with something so powerful. It’s the creative force of the universe. It’s in every atom, every relationship and even, we are learning, in every galaxy.
The Christian church, well, we are simply a company of people, a fellowship, learning to ‘give away’. We believe because we dare to give this a go. Even by ‘giving away’ just a little we feel the difference in the quality of our lives. We just feel better. Jesus is prompting us – in amazing grace and patience – to ‘give away’ a bit more.
Following his pathway, walking his way, we learn to believe it is the truth and it really is the life.
If you want to know more about catching this in our daily lives – do get in touch…