Christians who do not have the feeling that they must flee the crucified Christ have probably not yet understood him in a sufficiently radical way… More radical Christian faith can only mean committing oneself without reserve to the “crucified God.” It does not promise the confirmation of one’s own conceptions, hopes and good fundamental change. It offers no recipe for success. But it brings a confrontation with the truth.
– Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
When I was young there was a notion among the believers that I knew — and I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t a believer — that to feel the presence of God required that one seek god constantly , that one’s spiritual instincts demanded the same sort of regular exercises as the muscles of one’s body. The great fear was not that God would withdraw, but that one’s capacity to perceive him would atrophy. I think of this when I hear people say that they have no religious impulse whatsoever, or when I hear believers, or would-be believers, express a sadness and frustration that they have never really been absolutely overpowered by God. I always want to respond: Really? You have never felt overwhelmed by, and in some way inadequate to, an experience in your life, have never felt something in yourself staking a claim beyond your self, some wordless mystery straining through words to reach you? Never? Religion is not made of these moments; religion is the means of making these moments part of your life rather than merely radical intrusions so foreign and perhaps even fearsome that you can’t even acknowledge their existence afterward. Religion is what you do with these moments of over-mastery in your life, these rare times in which you are utterly innocent. It is a means of preserving and honoring something that, ultimately, transcends the elements of whatever specific religion you practice.
– Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
As a training ground, the Bible shows the things that God loves and the things that repel Him. Caring for those who are weak and broken is high on the list in both testaments. Doing this with kindness and mercy instead of arrogance and judgment are also important. Working humbly with Him in order to develop our own lives allows Him to enrich our experience immeasurably. And reaching out to care, in whatever ways we are good at. fills life with meaning and with joy….
I have had countless experiences of reading the Bible and suddenly knowing that I have been treating others badly by insisting on my own way. I get lost in a story and the next thing I know, a conflict with someone at home or at work plays out before my mind and I realize that I acted or spoke selfishly. Then my heart softens and I often, not always, find a way to build a bridge to the other person.
– Peter Fitch (from his recently released, Learning to Interpret Toward Love
that “describes his own story of gradually realizing that this truth would lead to a new way of seeing and accepting people with different sexuality.”)
In a life of failures, we will endure failures. And we will come to know so many of our flaws. But that will not defeat us. A life of wholeness can meet failure as the wisest teacher. A life of wholeness can accept flaws and vulnerabilities as doors to relationship. If we can do all things flawlessly, we have no need of anybody else. That is not ubuntu. Flaws and vulnerabilities destroy the illusion of self sufficiency and can open our eyes to our common humanity. Flaws and vulnerabilities can build the bridge to human community and to a relationship with the divine.
– Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu from Made for Goodness
Daily I am astonished at how readily I believe that something I need is in short supply. If I hoard possessions, it is because I believe that there are not enough to go around…..
The irony, often tragic, is that by embracing the scarcity assumption, we create the very scarcities we fear. If I hoard material goods, others will have too little and I will never have enough, If I fight my way up the ladder of power, others will be defeated and I will never be secure. If I get jealous of someone I love, I am likely to drive that person away. If I cling to the words I have written as if they were the last of their kind, the pool of new possibilities will surely go dry. We create scarcity by fearfully accepting it as law, and by competing with others for resources as if we were stranded on the Sahara at the last oasis.
In the human world, abundance does not happen automatically It is created when we have the sense to choose community, to come together to celebrate and share our common store. Whether the “scarce resource” is money or love or power or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around. Authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection, but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them – and receive them from others when we are in need.
– Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak