In this session Robyn Wrigley-Carr interviews Dr Elaine Storkey about the themes of the book in Part Three; suffering and the costly Christ.
Dr Elaine Storkey is an English philosopher, sociologist, and theologian. She is known for her lecturing, writing and broadcasting.
Start the session relaxing as a group. You could share a meal, go for a walk, or even just have a chat over a cup of tea. Whatever you do, make sure everyone feels at comfortable and at home. When it’s time to start moving towards the session’s content, shift the conversation towards prayer and ask everyone what their experience of prayer is.
You can structure this how you think best. If the group knows each other well already, a free-flowing conversation will be fine. If the group is less well established, it may be best to go round in a circle giving each person a brief opportunity to share their experience about the topic. Don’t let too much discussion develop at this point (if any). What’s important is that every begins to get comfortable talking and sharing and that you as leader get a gauge on where everyone is at.
In this meditation, Evelyn reflects upon the encounter between
Jesus and the rich young ruler. He’s already paid the price of being
a good, respectable Christian and Jesus can see he longs for more.
Loving the young man, Jesus challenges him to embrace complete
self-abandonment. Evelyn is clear that choosing to follow Jesus is
not an easy, pleasant affair. Rather, He demands great renunciation
of His followers, and whether our baggage is a desire to be comfortable, or appreciated, or popular or looked up to by others, we need
to stop long enough to listen seriously to Christ’s demands. It’s no
good being keen to get on in practical ways in our work if we’re not
willing to be stripped of the extras we cling to. Truly, the only thing
that’s really needed on the path to union with Christ is to follow
Surrendering to self is an important theme in the book. Self interest and spirituality is a contradiction in terms. In todays society there is a lot of focus on ‘you being you’, on self importance and self help. This is all great but it is not a measure of spirituality. Real spirituality takes us outside of ourselves to the person beyond. Self is insignificant in terms of history, materiality and world order; but extraordinarily significant to God. Spirituality falls into place when we focus on God rather than self.
The book explores the idea of the ‘Costly Christ’, this is the fact that it is costly to follow Christ. As Christians, our live share in the pain, darkness and mystery of the cross, as well as it’s glorious light. To follow Jesus is not, as is not meant to be, convenient. It is demanded of a Christian that we move out of our comfort zone. We need Jesus to help us make the first steps out and then we are sustained on the journey by relationship.
Suffering is expected as a Christian, the bible teaches us this. God does test us to refine our faith and trust in Him. It is part of our job to speak up for those who are suffering who might not have a voice. Victims of abuse, violence, neglect and persecution will fall into this category. We must stand in love, compassion and solidarity with these people and speak up for them. We can never demand that they forgive their abusers but we can point them to God. In light of this, perhaps our own suffering for Christ will diminish and we can ‘let go’ of our minor offenses.