Journey: From the Inside Out

Read:  “Your Secret Life”

Not long ago I got a spider bite.  Truth be told, I should have gone to the doctor.  But, well…you know…it’s a guy thing.  I promised myself to keep an eye on it and to go get it checked if it got larger or turned purple.

Again, truth be told…it did both, despite my frequent applications of antibiotic cream–please note that it was ‘antibiotic’ cream; is there anything more powerful than that?–at least anything more powerful sold without a prescription, which requires going to a doctor.

Slathered with antibiotic cream, I convinced myself that the bite was looking better.  Wishful thinking at first. And then…really…it was.  Something was happening on the inside, and little-by-little the bite was healed.

I thought about my experience as I read this chapter.  For all that I did on the outside (which I still manly claim did some good), it was what was going on inside that really produced the healing.  I literally got well from the inside out.

In the stories that McLaren highlighted, Jesus said essentially the same thing.  We live on the outside because of what is happening on the inside.  Life comes from the secret places of prayer, the hidden resources of devotion, and the unseen practices of discipline. 

Like icebergs, almost all of the abundant life is underground; as Paul put it, our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  We get faith backward if we put the emphasis on what is seen–on what is public. We become what E. Stanley Jones called “cut-flower Christians”–petals with no roots.

This is paradox.  It doesn’t make sense that we do more good as we strengthen the interior.  But that is the way it works.  That’s how plants produce fruit, how souls generate life, and how spider bites are healed.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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