Metaphors and images are helpful in following Jesus but only if we understand and see ways to apply them and live out of them. Last week, my dear friend Gabriel asked a great question in the comments: “What does basing our house on Christ look like for you?” This post, then, is an attempt to answer this question, and to put some flesh on the skeleton of the metaphor (see what I did there, I used a metaphor about a metaphor – I call it a meta-metaphor).
Having Christ as the cornerstone of our spirituality carries two major applications. Firstly, it places Christ as the central model of what it looks like to be in close communion with God. Secondly, it reminds us that our spirituality must be Christocentric (a cool way of saying Christ-centered), and that God is already present to us.
Regarding the first application, the gospels provide us a great picture (although not always as much as we would like) of what Christ’s own rhythms were. He had time with people, and time alone. He healed people, and he retreated to a remote place to pray. He questioned, and he submitted. In all these ways, Jesus shows us the rhythms of a life that is in tune with the Spirit. His life was a beautiful blending of the contemplative and active lives – something Christians have been striving for ever since.
This model also offers some direct correctives to common mistakes we fall into. Some of us tend to associate spirituality with service – the more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be at the local soup kitchen. Others of us tend to associate spirituality with “the quiet time” – the more time you spend in prayer or reading the Scriptures, the closer you are to Jesus. Jesus as a model, however, disrupts both these ideas; they must be held in tension, remembering that the one necessary thing is to be constantly sitting at the feet of Jesus, in both service and contemplation.
If you’re anything like me, that first application quickly feels burdensome. Trying to maintain a perfect balance between action and contemplation is not an easy path to walk. This is why it’s crucial that we ensure that our spirituality is Christocentric. To be centered on and around Christ is to recognize that our spiritual life is not comprised of desperate attempts to tear the temple curtain to get to God. It has already been done. Christ himself did it, on our behalf.
When we realize this, our spiritual lives become a constant practice of accepting the invitation that Christ extends: to bring us into the holy of holies. Our spiritual act of worship is to come and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, not because we owe a debt any longer, but out of a deep love and recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The burden has been lifted. With a spirituality centered on Christ, it is already finished. We are already led into the Father’s presence by the Spirit.
If we don’t have Christ as our cornerstone, as the foundation of our spiritual building, these things both quickly go awry. Often the first implication grows large and overshadows the second as we strive to make our own way. May we all hold tightly to Christ as our cornerstone and look to him both as our model, and also as the founder and perfecter of our faith.