Had a few days in Switzerland earlier this month. Speaking at a conference of business people from across Europe followed by being a tourist in sunny Zurich.
Sharing the conference stage with an English colleague, we were to be interviewed by globetrotting, all-Australian, Greg van Borssum. Martial arts expert, Mr Universe competitor, world champion pistol shooter, film director, fight choreographer and stuntman on Mad Max.
We’d talked beforehand by email and phone about how the panel discussion would go. Greg wanted to talk about my story. I didn’t. He said “It’s going to be a blast!” “I’m British,” I said.
Greg went from failed school kid to Oscar winner via financial ruin and depression. He’d arrived the previous day after a 35 hour-long trip and had had a run in the mountains before breakfast. He had a high energy, high motivation, self-driven approach to life. We were poles apart on the ‘Frost scale of masculinity’. Follow that, I thought.
We sat down.
And, of course, it was fine.
He was the stereotypical gentle giant. And, yes, I did share some of my story. It was a good lesson in how not to compare oneself to others.
From our totally different approaches to life, we stood on common ground. Ambassadors for better mental health. Sharing a passion for enabling people to live and to work in a better place.
One of many things Greg said was that life is not about success but about fulfilment.
Society measures success by achievement. How high the salary. How large the house. How expensive the car. How big the bonus. How lovely the children are. Which university. How fashionable the clothes. What the job title is… But is such success fulfilling?
Fulfilling. Full. Filling.
What is it that fills us? What really nourishes the soul and the inner being?
Greg’s challenge was to look at life differently. In many respects, Christianity is also about looking at life – and living life – from a different approach.
Jesus’ approach was different. It remains, even today, counter-cultural. Sometimes counter-intuitive also.
‘The last will be first, and the first will be last,’ he said. (Matthew 19:30; 20:16; Mark 10:31 & Luke 13:30)
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled… Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (The Beatitudes in Matthew 5)
Paul’s letter to the Romans put it another way: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
In a previous post we considered the tools for the toolbox alluded to in Chapter 4 of the Rule of St Benedict. The same chapter says, ‘Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.’
It’s easy to look upon those words from the Bible and the Rule and be daunted by such high standards. To feel poles apart from others on some imaginary ‘God’s scale of acceptability’.
But there is no scale. For the love of Christ is the toolbox itself.
The love of Christ is the centre of everything about us. Everything we do stems from that love. That is where fulfilment lies.
Fulfilment gained through experiencing the love of Christ in our own lives.
Fulfilment gained through expressing that love towards others.
Fulfilment gained by taking a different approach.