Ascending Lower – A Call to the Crucified Life

Things never stay the same. Kittens become cats. Babes in arms eventually march across commencement stages and down wedding aisles. You never step in to the same river twice.

Perhaps some of you will know me from a previous existence in the realm of blogs. You will no doubt hear strains of that old presence – it is still very much a part of me. However, I hope this set of presentations will be much different. That, at least, is my goal.

A word about the title of this new blog. Jesus said those who wish to save their life must lose it. We win by losing. Paul said he was made strong in his weakness. The apostle wanted to live by being crucified. We climb higher by going lower. This image has been used by countless fathers and mothers of the church even down to the present. Henri Nouwen suggested that Christians are to be wounded healers. Richard Rohr (OFM) described it as “falling upward.”

I want to suggest – or to proclaim, rather – that the church of Christ, and individual Christians within it, must ascend by becoming lower. We become more like our Lord when we are given a towel, not a trophy. For too long we have been singing about “stars in our crown” instead of bowing to rub calluses on our knees.

So, I have three major goals for this space. One, I pray I can speak to the church of Christ, and individual members of that universal church, in a manner as to encourage a renewal of spirit, a revival of passion for Christ and his church. Two, I want to present the gospel of Christ as clearly and as powerfully as I can, both in its invitation and in its warning. Finally, to achieve those two related goals I want to promote what I believe is a healthy theology that leads to healthy practices. I must by definition confront what I believe is bad theology, incorrect exegesis, and sick practices (see 1:10 – Jeremiah had to pluck up, break down, destroy and overthrow before he could build and plant!)

My goal is to be irenic – to aim for peace – but I will not shrink from honest and forthright engagement with error. With Jesus as my savior, and the apostle Paul as my example, I pray I can ascend lower, and by doing so that I can be lifted into the new heaven and earth.

Author: Paul Smith

Paul Smith was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds the Bachelor of Science in Youth Ministry, Master of Biblical Studies and Master of Divinity, all from Abilene Christian University; and the Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Paul's passion is in teaching and preaching the gospel. Beyond the study of the Bible, his main academic interest is in the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is an unashamed mountain-goat, and longs to spend his time with his feet in a cold trout stream.

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