This week we are discussing Chapter 6 “The Cross and Ambition” and Chapter 7 “The Cross and Failure.” Within these chapters, Tomlin contrasts society’s contemporary understanding of ambition and failure with the examples laid down by Jesus and the apostles. In chapter 6, Tomlin challenges our understanding of ambition “as an essentially encompassing an individualistic view of the human race.” p.140. Ambition per se isn’t sinful, but the misdirection of that ambition. Remembering back to last Lent and our study of the seven capital sins, the sins of anger, envy, and pride are a misdirection of love back into ourselves. The Cross, however, calls us not to an individualistic love of selfish ambition, but an ambitious love for others. We read in Genesis that it is not an individual that is created in the image of God, but all of humanity. Gen. 1:27. Because it is only with all other human beings together that we partake of the divine nature. For us to be fully Christ-like we must be joined to other members (1 Cor. 12:12-31), and therefore our ambition must be directed towards this goal.
In Chapter 7, Tomlin discusses how the Cross necessarily overcomes our memory and fear of failure. The great example of failure is Peter. Jesus calls Peter “Satan.” Mark 8:33. At the Transfiguration, Peter is so worried about making tents for Moses and Elijah that he fails to understand what occurred. Mark 9:5. Jesus rebukes Peter’s lack of understanding of the parables. Matt 15:16. Peter asks to walk on water, then becomes frightened and sinks. Matt. 14:22-33. Peter falls asleep while he is supposed to be on watch in the garden. Mark 14:37. And, of course, it is Peter who denies Jesus thrice after only hours before pledging to follow Jesus to his death. Mark 14. But, after the Ascension, it is Peter who leads the early church. Acts 1:15. It is Peter who addresses the crowd at Pentecost. Acts 2:14-36. And Peter boldly confronts the rules, elders, and scribes in Jerusalem without fear. Acts 4:1-22. In Peter, we have that example of overcoming our past failures and our fear of failing now.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is corned beef and cabbage (it will be St. Patrick’s Day). Hope to see you here.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;Psalm 27:1
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?