Begin with Emptiness

coffee11.jpgIn a recent issue of "Heart-to-Heart" (published by Richard Foster’s Renovare ministry), Foster and Christopher Webb discuss the book Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation by Joshua Choonmin Kang.  The following is from the discussion:

If I had to pick out one aspect of this book that will probably stay in my mind for some time, it’s Pastor Kang’s uncompromising clarity about our purpose and calling.  We don’t practice the disciplines to become spiritual giants, holy men and women of renown.  We’re not on some sacred self-improvement program.  Instead, ‘Jesus is the goal for all believers.’  Our aim is to crucify ourselves that Christ can live in and through us — a calling to death before resurrection — which is perhaps why Deep-Rooted opens with some very courageous and uncomfortable words: ‘Begin with emptiness.’  We’re so often encouraged to be filled, to be blessed, to receive all we can from God.  I think it’s a hallmark of Pastor Kang’s gospel-grounded teaching that he draws us back instead to self-sacrifice, to renunciation, to the cross.  But that’s very hard in practice, don’t you think?  (Christopher Webb) 

Foster and Webb close their discussion of this book by quoting several paragraphs from the book.  The following is one of my favorites:

"It is my prayer that as you read this book you will become a person who pursues character before success, integrity before popularity, maturity before growth and service to others before accomplishment in your own life."  (Kang)

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6 thoughts on “Begin with Emptiness

  1. It is very difficult to think about beginning with emptiness. Our prayers are often that God will fill us with something whether it be peace, the Holy Spirit or whatever. Emptiness can be painful or at least uncomfortable so the desire is to avoid that at all times.
    I am in a small group of three women and we have studied the Spiritual Disciplines for at least two years now. Today we began working on a rule for our lives that will focus on adding those disciplines to each day, month and year. The question this morning was what do you want to be or how do you want to look. My friend’s response was I want to smell like Jesus just like when you hug someone and their perfume or cologne stays with you all day. I think that’s a great start. I will have to share this thought of starting from emptiness. I think in order to have a place into which we can add something we have to have some emptiness. 
    Thanks for sharing this thought today.

  2. I Believe this. Unfortunately, the defining phrase that has been plucked out of Scripture to describe this, "born-again," has become trite and tarnished by those who’ve never really gotten the concept. But, it is consistently reiterated in Scripture: I am crucified in Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. You can’t put new wine into old wineskins. And my favorite quote from John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
    The pursuit of Christlikeness is rare among men.
    Peace, Kim

  3. Great quote.
    I totally agree that in order to "surrender" our lives completely over to God we must empy our lives completely over to the will of God.  In every aspect. In every way. As Jesus emptied himself in Philippians 2:5-ff and became obedient even to death, so must we as Christians must empty ourselves and be willing to be obedient to death.  I believe as we make disciples of Christ the church will change and glorify God. Thanks Jim for this wonderful post brother. Keep up the great work you are doing.  God bless.
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  4. Kim,Thanks for citing these other references.  Very good.  As you suggest, they are all reminders of what it means to pursue the Christ-like life.