I recently read an essay entitled “The Cross and the Machine” by Paul Kingsnorth, a novelist, essayist, and poet from Ireland. He tells of his coming to Christ after living as an atheist in modern England. He found that freedom meant “to give up your will and follow God’s. To deny yourself. To let it come. I am terrible at this, but at least now I understand the path.”
Kingsnorth’s final paragraph expresses well the choice before all who live in modern cultures devoid of the sacred story. “In the kingdom of Man, the seas are ribboned with plastic, the forests are burning, the cities bulge with billionaires and tented camps, and still, we kneel before the idol of the great god Economy as it grows and grows like a cancer cell. And what if this ancient faith is not an obstacle after all, but a way through? As we see the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit, of choosing power over humility, separation over communion, the stakes become clearer each day. Surrender or rebellion; sacrifice or conquest; death of the self or triumph of the will; the cross or the machine. We have always been offered the same choice. The gate is strait and the way is narrow and maybe we will always fail to walk it. But is there any other road that leads home?”
I am reminded of the words from the prophet Jeremiah, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” (Jer. 6:16). Our cultural narrative, if not critically discerned, can become like a slow-growing spiritual cancer, affecting our walk with God. Kingsnorth maintains that the ancient faith (Christianity) should not be seen as an obstacle, “but [rather] a way through.” Yes, you can navigate through a dry and thirsty land with Jesus. It will not be easy but will save your very soul from the machine of modern life.
We have a choice. Jesus says to us, “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14 NET). Kingsnorth wonders, “…Is there any other road that leads home?” Men, Jesus is the way back. I love the quote from Meister Eckhart, “God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.”
Jesus wants us to know that in choosing him we will regain our soul and find our true self. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering, embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matt. 16:24-26 – Message). Men, don’t let yourself be lost in the modern machine.
We have to ask ourselves, “What will it be?” Surrender or rebellion; sacrifice or conquest… the cross or the machine? Take 3-5 minutes to be silent before the Lord. Ask him to reveal an area in your life that is too little Cross and too much Machine… and what to do about that…