During our very last session of discussing The Primal Vision, we stumbled upon a quote that hit home for me and really summed up how this book could actually apply to my life. Seeing how application to real life could make or break the effect of read words, I figured this would be a good quote and concept to let my mind dwell on and thoroughly contemplate.
The quote goes like this: “The sin from which Christ can save man is not the sin of which others have convicted him, nor the minor failings of his self-idealization nor the exaggerated vices of his self-loathing, but the actual condition of need as he knows it when he faces himself in the presence of Christ, in the context of his own world of thought and experience. “ (Taylor 118)
Now I’ve written my fair share of exegetical research papers, so forgive me if my analysis of this passage turns into one. But going phrase by phrase, I just want to break down what Taylor is relaly trying to get at here. First phrase: “The sin from which Christ can save man is not the sin of which others have convicted him.” The word “him” here is referring to man and the sin that Taylor speaks of is the guilt-causing words that man relates to mean, often not lining up with what God defines sin as in scripture. The key word here is guilt. God does not spur guilt in our hearts. Such is a weapon of Satan. Man (both Christian and non-Christians) can be a tool of His to spur on this guilt or false man-convicted “sin”.
Second phrase: “nor the minor failings of his self-idealization is placing oneself on a pedestal and creating quite high standards and goals for oneself to live up to. Naturally, as humans, we fall short constantly, which then gives us a reason to hate ourselves for not living up to our own standards. This is not a sin, however, and not the wrongdoing that Christ came to earth to pay for.
Third phrase: “…but the actual condition of need as he knows it when he faces himself in the presence of Christ…”. Man’s condition of need is what Christ came to cover. When Taylor writes, “as he knows it…in the presence of Christ”, he is telling us how man knows in his heart his biggest shortcoming of his indidivual self when he is before Christ, because that shortcoming also defines where that man’s biggest sacrifice for his Lord must take place and likely the man’s most common sin against His Lord.
We discussed this abstract passage of Taylor’s writing in Faith and Action class and Mark brought forth the example of Nicodemus and the rich young ruler. Jesus told Nicodemus to be born again because he had been born into social prosperity…born to be a religious leader. The metaphor, even of being born again, would mean sacrificing everything for Jesus. Similarly, Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give it to the poor…a full and complete sacrifice. Essentially, Jesus told everyone to give up whatever it was they clung tightest to, even if it was a good habit, ritual or possession. Peter- his pride in servant hood, the woman at the well- her secrecy, Martha- her work ethic, Paul- his status, Jesus’ earthly family- their family importance, and so on.
Lastly, Taylor writes, “…in the context of his own world of thought and experience.” Personal value… “his own” personal value defined by “though and experience”. Jesus calls us to give up our personal value in exchange for knowing Him and following Him with our whole lives…not just all of our lives, but that one little thing we want to hang onto. It’s that one little thing that Jesus came to earth and died for…paid for. It’s that one little thing we are being called to give up.
So I ask myself, “What is my personal value? What is my identity placed in, that I never really fully relinquished to my Lord?” And when it comes down to Primal Vision and Taylor’s overarching message to his readers, I ask myself, “When did I subconsciously determine that my Jesus is western and I am personal responsible for taking Him elsewhere? Or did I ever decide that? And if I did, how can I begin to reproach that idea with an enlightened universal perspective? How can I get these blinders off once and for all?” Part of my personal value, I realize, lies in western Christianity and I believe that is something the Lord would want me to let go of, realizing I cannot put Him in a box to share with whomever I so choose. Whether I share my Jesus or not, obey or disobey His callings, He will still make His way into the hearts of those He wills.
Once again, and I feel like it always comes down to this, I am only a toold. I can be usable and cooperative or heavy, rusty and unusable. It’s my choice, but what the Lord desire from me will never be in question.