The radio interview irked me more the longer I listened to it. The author of the book-in-review made a statement about five things in the life of Jesus we should all strive to emulate. Even though irritated, I suddenly recognized a truth that had bothered me for a long time. "That's the problem!" I told myself. What God's Word gives us in a "passive" voice, humanity twists to put into an active one. Such unnecessary confusion muddles our thinking and clouds our joy.
Just for a brief grammar review, in the active voice the subject performs the action. In the passive voice the subject is acted upon, or in other words, receives the action. So much human theologizing I've heard in the mass media mistakes the one for the other. We are instructed what we must do to be saved, in effect putting the burden on the shoulders of the old nature. It makes about as much sense to tell a gardner he has to pull on the plants to make them grow.
To illustrate, the Psalm that most of the world finds familiar came to my mind. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. HE makes me lie down in green pastures. HE leads me beside still waters. HE restores my soul. HE leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. YOU prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; YOU anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." --Psalm 23
You get the picture of how much the "me" (passive voice) receives the action of the Shepherd. The extent of our own activity seems to be limited to "...I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...." and "...I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." In everything else the Good Shepherd is the one performing the action. Even when "I will fear no evil," it is only because "You (Lord) are with me." And, the important thrust of all that the Lord does for "me" is reflected in "my cup overflows." The cup does nothing to fill itself! Halleluia!
What a difference between "striving to emulate" the Savior, and simply receiving the sunshine and the rain that mysteriously cause the seed of the Word to sprout, grow and bear seed-bearing fruit!
(Jesus declared) "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." --Matthew 11:28-30
---Edy T Johnson---
Read more articles by Edy T Johnson or search for articles on the same topic or others.