But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ – Philippians 3:8

I am something of an expert on forgetfulness, seeing as I routinely lose money. I tend to use it as a page holder instead of its original, intended purpose. I often lose my way as I travel around in the pursuit of pastoral duties because I am thinking or praying so hard about something that I don’t pay attention to where I am. I even showed up one day at a McDonald’s in my pajamas!

But d’vekut (the mystical communion between man’s spirit and God’s) can lead us into a sacred forgetfulness. We can become so lost in the delight of prayer, Bible study or some other Christian discipline that all other things seem to simply fade away. In completely committing ourselves[1] and consecrating every activity as a living sacrifice to God[2], we begin to forget our ego and our petty concerns.

We can even forget pain and suffering. Our Master, after receiving a beating that would kill most[3] and being nailed to a cross[4], was able to calmly care for his mother[5], assure a thief of his place in paradise[6] and forgive those who were sinning against Him[7]. Peter and the apostles were able to walk away from imprisonment and flogging rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name[8]. It allowed Paul and Silas to have a sing along while shackled in a Philippian jail after being beaten[9].

We are told not only to expect persecution[10] but to actually rejoice when we are persecuted[11] knowing that good things are going to come out of it. We are to accept the seizure of our property with joyfulness knowing that we have for ourselves a better possession and a lasting one[12]. We are to boldly speak the Gospel amid much persecution, even after having suffered and been mistreated[13].

How do we do this? It can only be done by so focusing our devotion on Christ that all other things fade to mere petty distractions. But we are to go way beyond mere tolerance. We are expected to actually love those who persecute us[14].

Only when we enter fully into sacred activity, simultaneously losing ourselves and finding our larger, truer selves can we be so focused on the reality of God that this world dims. It’s as though our focus on the sun of God precludes the perception of this world’s dim candle – and sacred forgetfulness begins.

[1] Ecclesiastes 9:10; Romans 12:11; Colossians 3:23; Ephesians 6:7

[2] Romans 12:1

[3] Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-19:16

[4] Matthew 27:32-44; Mark 15:21-32; Luke 23:26-43; John 19:17-27

[5] John 19:26-27

[6] Luke 23:42-43

[7] Luke 23:34

[8] Acts 4:40-42

[9] Acts 16:23-25

[10] James 1:2

[11] Matthew 5:12

[12] Hebrews 10:34

[13] 1 Thessalonians 2:2

[14] Matthew 5:43-44