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Circumspect Christ

December 29, 2011

Just to be clear, I said “circumspect” not “circumcised.”  That would be a whole different blog.

Transitions become one of those moments in life that beg us to take a strong look at where we’ve been, where we are, where we want to go, and how we want to get there.  The turning of calendars from 2011 to 2012 affords us such an opportunity.  In fact, everybody is doing it.  Your internet homepage has multiple lists of top ten this or that from 2011, as well as prognostication of the coming year.  It’s resolution time.  Yeah, right.  Just what we need.  We all need a few more legalistic promises to ourselves that we won’t keep and will ultimately leave us full of shame when we fail.  Ugh!  Count me out.  Instead, I chose circumspection.

The word “circumspect” refers to seeing (“spect” as in spectacle) life in full circle (“circum” as in circumference).  Retrospect would be a look at the past, and prospect would be a look at the future.  Introspection or inspection is a look within.  Circumspect means that we take a long look at it all.  Paul tells us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise” (Eph. 5:15).

Walking or living circumspect is harder to do than you might think.  Living with an awareness of where you’ve been, how you got to the point you are at, and where you envision life taking you demands great self-awareness, and for Christians, great communion with God – including a strong familiarity with Christ.  I am suggesting to you that most people don’t live with intentionality.

I’m afraid that often life lives us rather than us living our lives.  For some, life is happening to them like a movie, and they are along for the ride to see what happens.  Many people in our world never ask deeper questions about existence, purpose, and value in life and death.  Everyone has opportunities to do so, especially at transitions:  New Year, birth, death, marriage, a move.  Unfortunately, too many take a look at the journey that an intentional life demands and simply call it myth, choosing instead to breathe in the manufactured realities they are given.  The result is a superficial life.  I am afraid that I have met some folks who didn’t even seem to have the ability to think in terms of “cause and effect.”  They could never link outcomes to the cause of those outcomes, and so they keep doing basically the same things and, of course, getting the same results.

That’s not who you are, of course.  You’re reading a blog.  A really good, thoughtful, and provocative blog that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you look deeply into the hidden compartments of your heart.  OK, I’m overselling this blog in a major way.  Complete hyperbole to bolster my self-esteem; it’s a sad and ugly attempt at validation.  My point is that people who care enough to stop during the day and read a blog, to take some time to stop running in life so that they can think about where they are running, tend to be people who think deeply about who they are.

But Paul reminds us that it is a constant battle for circumspection.  He tells us to walk with awareness and intentionality.  This refers to a life that evaluates itself regularly, not just at New Years.

We have several obstacles in doing this:

  1. We live in a loud culture that demands our attention and rarely gives us a moment to reflect about who we are and want to be.
  2. We naturally avoid self-awareness because of the vulnerability it brings to see ourselves as we really are.  It’s painful.
  3. We would rather live in ignorance, avoiding life’s demanding tasks and accepting the fake reality by thinking we are who we would like to be instead of who we really are.
  4. We are doers who do not value being.  We wrongly tend to think that what we will do will make us into something, when in reality what we are will drive what we do.
  5. The questions we must ask to live circumspectly are difficult ones and demand work that we tend not to want to do.  They are questions about existence, purpose, worth, and meaning.

On my way to work today, I listened to one of the older Switchfoot songs that asks the question: “This is your life; are you who you want to be?”  So, you do have a chance.  God has given you the opportunity to make some choices and be on a path.  If you are a believer, then He has done even more than that:  He has empowered you with the Holy Spirit to be able to choose to imitate Jesus.

This moment could be pivotal.  A “pivot” is a powerful point that is able to transfer weight from one point to another.  Even though it is small, it is still powerful.  Each moment is powerful like that, but only if we are circumspect.

My prayer through this Crossculture blog is that you might stop for a moment, take circumspect inventory, and see the beauty and wisdom of Jesus and His cross to the degree that you would become intentional about your discipleship.  I hope that something written in the past year on this blog made you see Him with greater clarity or with multifaceted glory, and that when you become intentional, you will be intentionally His.

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