Monday, January 17, 2011
Detachment: Essential Dynamic of Deeper Spiritual Formation
We constantly focus on the wrong things. As fallen human beings, how often we fail to direct all of our affection toward our loving Creator! Instead we fixate on created things—material possessions, people, popularity, power, pleasure, and the list goes on.
When we came to Christ, we repented of our worldly orientation. However, such repentance was not simply a one-time event that solved everything once and for all. Rather, our initial turning was just the beginning of a repentant lifestyle. Jesus calls us to die daily to ourselves and our temporal orientation in order to genuinely follow him.
Letting go of all the worldly diversions that we tend to hold on to is classically referred to as “detachment.” If we desire to pursue the deeper spiritual life in Christ, we need to practice detachment on a daily basis.
Isaiah 60:1-2 says,
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.”
Reflecting on this passage, one of the great spiritual writers of the church, Johannes Tauler, challenges us that we have a job to do. We must arise and shine!
“God desires and requires but one thing in all the world. This he desires so much that he turns all his diligence upon this one thing, namely that he would find our noble inner depth . . . empty and ready for him to fulfill his divine work.
“We must raise ourselves up from everything that is not God—from self and from all created things. Such rising sets off a turbulent longing in our depths to be stripped bare and set free from everything that separates us from God. The more we lay aside all these things, the more such longing grows within us and flows out over itself, and—when God touches our naked depths—it often surges through our flesh and blood and marrow!”
As you seek to grow spiritually this new year, what do you need to detach yourself from? What do you need to stand up and walk away from in order to let Jesus’ light shine into your life? The Lord is ready to pour out his glory and you and me, but we must first stand up, detach ourselves from all the false fulfillments that the world has to offer in order to let God’s glory appear on us!
1 Johannes Tauler Predigten: Vollständige Ausgabe,ed. Georg Hofmann (Freiburg: Herder, 1961), sermon 5, pp. 35-36. The translation is my own.
© 2011 Glenn E. Myers