The man is a true man who chooses duty; he is a perfect man who at length never thinks of duty, who forgets the name of it. The duty of Jesus was the doing in lower forms than the perfect that which he loved perfectly, and did perfectly in the highest forms also. Thus he fulfilled all righteousness. One who went to the truth by mere impulse, would be a holy animal, not a true man. Relations, truths, duties, are shown to the man away beyond him, that he many choose them, and be a child of God, choosing righteousness like him. The moral philosopher who regards duties only as facts of his system; even the man who rewards them as truths, essential realities of his humanity, but goes no farther, is essentially a liar, a man of untruth. He is a man in possibility, but not a real man yet. The recognition of these things is the imperative obligation to fulfill them. Not fulfilling these relations, the man is undoing the right of his own existence, destroying his raison d’etre, making of himself a monster, a live reason why he should not live, for nothing on those terms could ever have begun to be. His presence is a claim upon his creator for destruction. The facts of human relation, then, are truths indeed, and of most awful import. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him!” The man who lives a hunter after pleasure, not a laborer in the fields of duty, is in himself a lie. Hence all the holy—that is, healing—miseries that come upon him; they are for the compelling of the truth he will not yield—a painful suasion to be himself, to be a truth.
by James House
So many of us wander to and fro, looking for happiness and meaning. For many, it is because they don't consciously know where to get it. For others - too many of us who have heard the Gospel - we continue to look for it in places and ways that feel easier on our minds than where we know we can surely get it.
"Perhaps the greater part of the energy of this world's life goes forth in the endeavor to rid itself of discomfort."
It is difficult to face the reality of who we are, or rather who we are not. To face the reality that our discomfort comes from being untrue to who we should be, and that we are therefore separated from the closest presence of our Father. Sometimes, even a glimmer of that truth can be deeply painful, and hence we avoid it.
The rich young man asked the Lord, "what lack I yet"? (Matt. 19:20). And when the Lord asked him to give up that which most kept him from being his best self, the young man became sorrowful and departed. How often do we depart from the truth of where we stand - of how much truth is (not) within us?
"The Lord knows what they need; they know only what they want. They want ease; he knows they need purity."
Of course, Jesus did not ask the young man to do a hard thing out of cruelty. In fact, we read "Jesus beholding him loved him" (Mark 10:21). The Lord loves all of us, and wants us all to be our best, our true selves - thus he asks us to do hard things, things that will change us. We each have weaknesses we must conquer. We each have fears that we must cast off.
Christ offers the gifts of his Atonement to clean us from our sins. Christ offers the gifts of his Grace to free us of our inclination to sin - to free us of our untruths.
"He is come to free us from everything that makes life less than bliss essential. No other could be a gospel worthy of the God of men."
We must become true daughters and sons of God by choosing to be true - by choosing to cast off the fear of facing our weaknesses. Let us take Christ's strengthening hand and act in courage!
Quotes from George MacDonald's The Hope of the Gospel.