Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

God’s Purpose or Mine?

July 28th, 2017

He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side… —Mark 6:45

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

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Salvation as At-One-Ment

Divinization
Friday, July 28, 2017

Yesterday we explored the metaphor of a wedding to describe what God is doing—preparing and drawing us toward deeper intimacy, belonging, and union. The Eastern Fathers of the Church were not afraid of this belief, and called it the process of “divinization” (theosis). In fact, they saw it as the whole point of the Incarnation and the very meaning of salvation. The much more practical and rational church in the West seldom used the word divinization. It was just too daring for us, despite the rather direct teachings from Peter (1 Peter 1:4-5 and 2 Peter 1:4) and Jesus in John’s Gospel: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:20-21).

Jesus came to give us the courage to trust and allow our inherent union with God, and he modeled it for us in this world. Union is not merely a place we go to later—if we are good. It is a place of deep goodness that we naturally exist inside of—now.

For persons and for creation, transformation must be real and in this world. Paul’s most used phrase, “en Christo,” suggests a shared embodiment. The Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) then takes the form of a meal so we can be reminded frequently of our core identity (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). As Augustine said, “We are what we eat! We are what we drink!” [1]

This development of love consciousness is the true Second Coming of Christ. I am convinced of it. Our union with God will finally be allowed and enjoyed, despite our relentless resistance and denial. When God wins, God wins! God does not lose. Apokatastasis (universal restoration) has been promised to us (Revelation 3:20-21) as the real message of the Universal Christ, the Alpha and the Omega of all history (Revelation 1:4, 21:6, 22:13). It will be a win-win for God—and surely for humanity! [2] What else would a divine victory look like?

The clear goal and direction of the biblical revelation is toward (continue reading)

The Way to Knowledge

July 27th, 2017

If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine”

 

The golden rule to follow to obtain spiritual understanding is not one of intellectual pursuit, but one of obedience. If a person wants scientific knowledge, then intellectual curiosity must be his guide. But if he desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, he can only obtain it through obedience. If spiritual things seem dark and hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life. Intellectual darkness is the result of ignorance, but spiritual darkness is the result of something that I do not intend to obey.No one ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test regarding it.

We disobey and then wonder why we are not growing spiritually. Jesus said, If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24). He is saying, in essence, don’t say another word to me; first be obedient by making things right. The teachings of Jesus hit us where we live. We cannot stand as impostors before Him for even one second. He instructs us down to the very last detail. The Spirit of God uncovers our spirit of self-vindication and makes us sensitive to things that we have never even thought of before.

When Jesus drives something home to you through His Word, don’t try to evade it. If you do, you will become a religious impostor. Examine the things you tend simply to shrug your shoulders about, and where you have refused to be obedient, and you will know why you are not growing spiritually. As Jesus said, First go. Even at the risk of being thought of as fanatical, you must obey what God tells you.

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Richard Rohr

Salvation as At-One-Ment

Deepening Connection
Thursday, July 27, 2017

If we would imitate Jesus in very practical ways, the Christian religion would be made-to-order to grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity, and care for creation. Mature religion serves as a conveyor belt for the evolution of human consciousness. Immature religion actually stalls people at very early stages of magical, mythic, and tribal consciousness, while they are convinced they are enlightened or saved. Then we are more a part of the problem than offering any kind of solution. Only the nondual and mystical mind gets us all the way through, and that happens only by continual enlargement of the True Self and continual loss of the small ego self.  

Unfortunately, Christianity became another moralistic religion. It was overwhelmingly aligned with a very limited period of history (empire building through war) and a small piece of the planet (Europe), not the whole earth or any glorious destiny (Romans 8:18) for us all. Not surprisingly, many Christians ended up tragically fighting evolution”along with most early human and civil rights struggles” because we had not been taught any evolutionary notion of Christ who was forever groaning in one great act of giving birth (Romans 8:22). Until the reforms of the 1960s and the Second Vatican Council, Roman Catholicism was overwhelmingly tribal. Protestantism wasted too much time reacting against that tribalism”which made it tribal too. We become another version of anything we dislike or react against too strongly.

Authentic mystical experience connects us and keeps connecting us at ever-newer levels, breadths, and depths, “until God is all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). The world, life and death, the present and the future are all your servants, for you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:22-23). Full salvation is finally universal belonging and universal connecting. Our word for that is heaven.

God is forever evolving human consciousness, making us ever more ready for God. The Jewish prophets, Jesus himself (Mark 2:19-20), and many Hindu, Catholic, and Sufi mystics used words like wedding, espousal, marriage, or bride and groom to describe this phenomenon. That’s what the prophet Isaiah (61:10, 62:5), many of the Psalms, the school of Paul (Ephesians 5:25-32), and the Book of Revelation (19:7-8, 21:2) mean by preparing a bride to be ready for her husband. The human soul is being gradually readied so that intimacy and partnership with the Divine are the final result. Note that such salvation is a social and cosmic concept, and not just about isolated individuals “going to heaven. The Church was meant to bring this corporate salvation to conscious and visible possibility, but it was itself too tribal to accomplish much in this regard. It was not catholic (universal or according to the whole), a word we began using to describe ourselves as early as the year 108 AD. In some ways we’ve gone backwards.

Gateway to Silence:
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

The Way to Purity

July 26th, 2017

Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart….For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man… —Matthew 15:18-20

Initially we trust in our ignorance, calling it innocence, and next we trust our innocence, calling it purity. Then when we hear these strong statements from our Lord, we shrink back, saying, “But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart.” We resent what He reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust the penetration of His Word into my heart, or would I prefer to trust my own “innocent ignorance”? If I will take an honest look at myself, becoming fully aware of my so-called innocence and putting it to the test, I am very likely to have a rude awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I will be appalled at the possibilities of the evil and the wrong within me. But as long as I remain under the false security of my own “innocence,” I am living in a fool’s paradise. If I have never been an openly rude and abusive person, the only reason is my own cowardice coupled with the sense of protection I receive from living a civilized life. But when I am open and completely exposed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis of me.

The only thing that truly provides protection is the redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will simply hand myself over to Him, I will never have to experience the terrible possibilities that lie within my heart. Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. But when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibited in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute unblemished purity.

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Saved by the Cross
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The cross is a perfect metaphor for what I meant when I titled one of my books Everything Belongs. God is to be found in all things, even and most especially in the painful, tragic, and sinful things—exactly where we do not want to look for God. The crucifixion of the God-Man is at the same moment the worst and best thing in human history. It validates the central notion of paradox at the heart of Christianity.

The cross is saying that there is a cruciform pattern to reality. Reality is not meaningless and absurd (chaos/no patterns/nihilism), but neither is it perfectly consistent (rationalism/scientism/fundamentalism). Reality, rather, is filled with contradictions, what Bonaventure (1221-1274) and others called “the coincidence of opposites.” [1] Bonaventure even found sacred geometry in the symbol of the cross: “For the center is lost in a circle, and it cannot be found except by two lines crossing each other at a right angle.” [2] In other words, some kind of suffering is the only way to reconcile differences.

Jesus was killed on the collision of cross-purposes, conflicting interests, and half-truths. The cross was the price Jesus paid for living in a “mixed” world that was both human and divine, simultaneously broken and utterly whole. He hung between a good thief and a bad thief, between heaven and earth, inside of both humanity and divinity, a male body with a feminine soul, utterly whole and yet utterly disfigured—all the primary opposites. (continue reading)

Am I Blessed Like This?

July 25th, 2017

Blessed are… —Matthew 5:3-11

When we first read the statements of Jesus, they seem wonderfully simple and unstartling, and they sink unnoticed into our subconscious minds. For instance, the Beatitudes initially seem to be merely soothing and beautiful precepts for overly spiritual and seemingly useless people, but of very little practical use in the rigid, fast-paced workdays of the world in which we live. We soon find, however, that the Beatitudes contain the “dynamite” of the Holy Spirit. And they “explode” when the circumstances of our lives cause them to do so. When the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance one of the Beatitudes, we say, “What a startling statement that is!” Then we must decide whether or not we will accept the tremendous spiritual upheaval that will be produced in our circumstances if we obey His words. That is the way the Spirit of God works. We do not need to be born again to apply the Sermon on the Mount literally. The literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount is as easy as child’s play. But the interpretation by the Spirit of God as He applies our Lord’s statements to our circumstances is the strict and difficult work of a saint.

The teachings of Jesus are all out of proportion when compared to our natural way of looking at things, and they come to us initially with astonishing discomfort. We gradually have to conform our walk and conversation to the precepts of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit applies them to our circumstances. The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of rules and regulations— it is a picture of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His unhindered way with us.
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Incarnation Instead of Atonement
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Franciscans never believed that “blood atonement” was required for God to love us. We believed that Christ was Plan A from the very beginning (Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1:1-18). Christ wasn’t a Plan B after the first humans sinned, which is the way most people seem to understand the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Great Mystery of Incarnation could not be a mere mop-up exercise, a problem-solving technique, or dependent on human beings messing up. The Incarnation was not motivated by a problem but by love.

Did God intend no meaning or purpose for creation during the first 13.8 billion years? Did the sun, moon, and galaxies have no divine significance? The fish, the birds, the animals were just waiting for humans to appear? Was there no Divine Blueprint (“Logos”) from the beginning? This thinking reveals the hubris of the human species and our tendency to anthropomorphize the whole story around ourselves.

The Franciscan view grounds Christianity in love and freedom from the very beginning. It creates a coherent and positive spirituality, which draws us toward lives of inner depth, prayer, reconciliation, healing, and universal at-one-ment, instead of any notion of sacrifice, which implies God needs to be bought off. Nothing changed on Calvary, but everything was revealed as God’s suffering love—so that we could change!

Jesus was precisely the “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27) sacrifice given to reveal the lie and absurdity of all “sacrificial” religion. But we perpetuated such regressive and sacrificial patterns by making God the Father into the Chief Sacrificer, and Jesus into the necessary victim. Is that really the only reason to love Jesus? Is there no wondrous life to imitate?

This “being saved by his death” language allowed us to ignore Jesus’ way of life and preaching, because all we really needed Jesus for was the last three days or three hours of his life. This is no exaggeration. The irony is that Jesus undoes, undercuts, and defeats the sacrificial game. Stop counting, measuring, earning, judging, and punishing—ways many Christians are very well trained in—because they believe that is the way God operates too. This makes the abundant world of grace largely inaccessible—which is, of course, the whole point.

It is and has always been about love from the very beginning.

Gateway to Silence:
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

His Nature and Our Motives

July 24th, 2017

…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 5:20

The characteristic of a disciple is not that he does good things, but that he is good in his motives, having been made good by the supernatural grace of God. The only thing that exceeds right-doing is right-being. Jesus Christ came to place within anyone who would let Him a new heredity that would have a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is saying, “If you are My disciple, you must be right not only in your actions, but also in your motives, your aspirations, and in the deep recesses of the thoughts of your mind.” Your motives must be so pure that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke. Who can stand in the eternal light of God and have nothing for Him to rebuke? Only the Son of God, and Jesus Christ claims that through His redemption He can place within anyone His own nature and make that person as pure and as simple as a child. The purity that God demands is impossible unless I can be remade within, and that is exactly what Jesus has undertaken to do through His redemption.

No one can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations— He gives us His teachings which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature which He places within us. The great wonder of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He changes our heredity. He does not change human nature— He changes its source, and thereby its motives as well.

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Journal DJR
Good morning Lord, I like what Chambers wrote today. I am, however, beginning to see the work Jesus Christ did as more of a “done deal, whereas he at least insinuates that it is not quite done… until I do my part. Some of Chamber’s verbs in today’s devo are past tense, indicating that the work was complete (by Jesus on the Cross and Resurrection) Others are present tense insinuating that there is still work to be done.

“came to place within anyone who would let Him a new heredity” & ‘He can place within anyone His own nature”

Wouldn’t it be better to say that You “have placed” your new nature in me and my only requirement is to “wake up” to it and live from it?

Perhaps it’s just a semantic difference. But it seems helpful to me to see it as a done deal. You bought back the whole human race. Of course there are lots of scriptures that say that. I guess we’ve just ignored them or interpreted around them in the past, choosing other scriptures…

1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man [came] death, by Man also [came] the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

1 Timothy 2:4 God “desires all men to be saved,”
1 Timothy 2:6 Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all.”
Hebrews 2:9 “Jesus tasted death for everyone.”

So what remains to be done? It is seeming to me to be more like simply waking up. Perhaps waking up means simply believing what is already so. And that is Faith. And that is all that is required.

Ephesians 5:14 “Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

So Waking Up, (to what You have already completed and provided) provides a lens thru which I am looking at life these days. Staying awake seems important too. That sounds like connection, which you have been teaching us.

I wouldn’t fight with a brother who sees a need for people to prove their belief by saying a formula prayer or reciting a creed and preaching condemnation for all who didn’t. But for me, I’m beginning to see that You died for all. All means all. Some wake up to the fact. Those who don’t miss out on some blessings. But all still means all.

Please teach me more about this. Teach me all that you want me to know about this. Not more so I can argue with other believers……but more for the love of Christ.

Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. Thank you. I love you.

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Here is Richard Rohr’s Daily Devotional…

A Nonviolent Atonement
Monday, July 24, 2017

In the thirteenth century, the Franciscans and the Dominicans invariably took opposing positions in the great debates in the universities of Paris, Cologne, Bologna, and Oxford. Both opinions usually passed the tests of orthodoxy, although one was preferred. The Franciscans often ended up presenting the minority position. Like the United States’ Supreme Court, the Church could have both a majority and a minority opinion, and the minority position was not kicked out! It was just not taught in most seminaries. However, it was taught in some Franciscan formation centers, and I was a lucky recipient of this “alternative orthodoxy” at Duns Scotus College in Michigan from 1962-1966.

I share this background to illustrate that my understanding of the atonement theory is not heretical or new, but has quite traditional and orthodox foundations, beginning with many theologians in the Patristic period.

Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans agreed with Anselm’s (by then mainline) view that a debt had to be paid for human salvation. But Franciscan John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) said that Jesus wasn’t solving any problems by coming to earth and dying. God did not need Jesus to die on the cross to decide to love humanity. God’s love was infinite from the first moment of creation; the cross was Love’s dramatic portrayal in space and time. That, in a word, was the Franciscan nonviolent at-one-ment theory. (Continue reading)

The Doorway to the Kingdom

July 21st, 2017

Blessed are the poor in spirit… —Matthew 5:3

Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain. What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possibly come close to reaching it? I would be happier if I never knew it. What good is there in telling me to be what I can never be— to be “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8), to do more than my duty, or to be completely devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as my Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of a lofty ideal which only leads to despair. But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach— He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The redemption means that Jesus Christ can place within anyone the same nature that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives us are based on that nature.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces a sense of despair in the natural man— exactly what Jesus means for it to do. As long as we have some self-righteous idea that we can carry out our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to continue until we expose our own ignorance by stumbling over some obstacle in our way. Only then are we willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit….” This is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work.

Dependent on God’s Presence

July 20th, 2017

Those who wait on the Lord…shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31


There is no thrill for us in walking, yet it is the test for all of our steady and enduring qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “…John…looking at Jesus as He walked…said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). There is nothing abstract or obscure in the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality.

Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though…” (Psalm 46:2)— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!”

At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying, “Oh, Lord, direct me in this, and in that.” Of course He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit. Then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

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Richard Rohr

Faith and Belief

Faith as Participation
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Many scholars have pointed out that what is usually translated in Paul’s letters as “faith in Christ” would be more accurately translated as “the faith of Christ.” It’s more than a change of prepositions. It means we are all participating—with varying degrees of resistance and consent—in the faith journey that Jesus has already walked. We are forever carried inside of the “Corporate Personality” that Jesus Christ always is for Paul (citations too numerous to count!). That’s a very different understanding of faith than most Christians enjoy.

Most people think having faith means “to believe in Jesus.” But, “to share in the faith of Jesus” is a much richer concept. It is not so much an invitation as it is a cosmic declaration about the very shape of reality. By myself, I don’t know how to have faith in God, but once we know that Jesus is the corporate stand in for everybody, we know we have already been taken on the ride through death and back to life. All we can do now is make what is objectively true fully conscious for us. continue reading https://cac.org/faith-as-participation-2017-07-20/

The Submission of the Believer

July 19th, 2017

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. —John 13:13

Our Lord never insists on having authority over us. He never says, “You will submit to me.” No, He leaves us perfectly free to choose— so free, in fact, that we can spit in His face or we can put Him to death, as others have done; and yet He will never say a word. But once His life has been created in me through His redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a complete and effective domination, in which I acknowledge that “You are worthy, O Lord…” (Revelation 4:11). It is simply the unworthiness within me that refuses to bow down or to submit to one who is worthy. When I meet someone who is more holy than myself, and I don’t recognize his worthiness, nor obey his instructions for me, it is a sign of my own unworthiness being revealed. God teaches us by using these people who are a little better than we are; not better intellectually, but more holy. And He continues to do so until we willingly submit. Then the whole attitude of our life is one of obedience to Him.

If our Lord insisted on our obedience, He would simply become a taskmaster and cease to have any real authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we truly see Him we will instantly obey Him. Then He is easily Lord of our life, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The level of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obedience. We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other; like the relationship between father and son, not that between master and servant. Jesus showed this relationship by saying, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Son was obedient as our Redeemer, because He was the Son, not in order to become God’s Son.
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Welcome Darkness and Mystery
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There are commonly two kinds of human beings: there are people who want certitude and there are people who want understanding; and these two often cannot understand one another. Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit the facts. Logic has nothing to do with it. Truth has nothing to do with it. “Don’t bother me with the truth—I’ve already come to my conclusion!” If you need certitude, you will surround yourself with your conclusions.

The very meaning of faith stands in stark contrast to this mind-set. I think Jesus (or the Father or Spirit) is actually dangerous if taken outside of the Trinity. Jesus held separate from the other members of the Trinity implies that faith is a static concept instead of a dynamic and flowing one.

We’ve turned faith into certitude when, in fact, this Trinitarian mystery is whispering quite the opposite: we have to live in exquisite, terrible humility before reality. In this space, God gives us a spirit of questing, a desire for understanding; it seems to me it’s only this ongoing search for understanding that will create compassionate and wise people. (continue reading)https://cac.org/welcome-darkness-mystery-2017-07-19/

The Mystery of Believing

July 18th, 2017

He said, “Who are You, Lord?” —Acts 9:5


Through the miracle of redemption, Saul of Tarsus was instantly changed from a strong-willed and forceful Pharisee into a humble and devoted bondservant of the Lord Jesus.There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.

Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t,I have already begun to sign the death certificate of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, “I will not obey,” He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).

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Richard Rohr, Faith and Belief

An Open and Growing Heart Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Like “prayer,” “religion,” and so many other words, the word “faith” means different things to different people. As we recover the lost tradition of contemplation, here are some clarifications for what I mean by “faith” and why, understood in a nondualistic way, faith is not blind assent, or even reasoned assent, but an essential part of spiritual transformation.

Faith points to an initial opening of the heart or mind space from our side. Foundationally, this is all that faith is, but its effects and implications can be enormous. Faith is our small but necessary “yes” to any new change or encounter.

Such an opening or re-opening is necessary to help you make fresh starts or break through to new levels. You normally have to let go of the old and go through a stage of unknowing or confusion before you can move to another level of awareness or new capacity. This opening up and letting go is largely what we mean by faith, and it explains why doubt and faith are correlative terms. People of great faith often suffer bouts of great doubt because they continue to grow. Mother Teresa experienced decades of doubt, as was widely reported after her death. The very fact that the media and people in general were surprised by her experience demonstrates our very limited understanding of faith. (continue reading) https://cac.org/open-growing-heart-2017-07-18/

The Miracle of Belief

July 17th, 2017

My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom… —1 Corinthians 2:4

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he impressed people with the excellency of his speech. Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “…as though God were pleading through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

“And I, if I am lifted up…, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).

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Faith Expressed as Love
Monday, July 17, 2017

Today Brian McLaren continues reflecting on faith and belief:
We could say that Christian faith (like many other faiths) was an engine of human cultural evolution when it came on the scene. It introduced new beliefs into human consciousness that liberated millions from older and less helpful beliefs. (Those beliefs themselves may have been liberating and helpful when they were first introduced, but having fulfilled their purpose became unhelpful and even imprisoning.) But eventually, by defining itself as a settled system of beliefs, Christianity . . . became a leash or a locked door impeding ongoing growth instead of a force for liberation and forward movement.
That’s why members of the Christian faith (like members of many other faiths) now face this critical question: must we stay where we are, forever defining ourselves as a system of beliefs, or may we migrate to a new understanding of Christian faith as a way of life . . . ? If such a migration is possible, how would we describe that way of life … ?
If we are to be truly Christian, it makes sense to turn to Jesus for the answer.
Of the many radical things said and done by Jesus, his unflinching emphasis on love was the most radical of all. Love was the greatest commandment, he said (Matthew 22:37-40). It was his new commandment, his prime directive—love for God, for self, for neighbor, for stranger, . . . and even for enemy, as he himself modeled. The new commandment of love meant neither beliefs nor words, neither taboos, systems, structures nor the labels that enshrined them mattered most. Love decentered [and] relativized everything else; love took priority over everything else.

Early in his life, Paul (then known as Saul) had no time for this kind of love talk. He was a religious-correctness man, not a love man. To guard the purity of his code, he was even willing to kill (Acts 9:1). But Paul was converted, deeply converted, and he migrated from religious correctness to love.
In fact, in his writings he not only echoed Jesus’s radical proposal but made it even more explicit. There were nearly nine hundred rules identified by his religion, but you could trade them all up for this one, he said: “The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love” (Galatians 5:6).

Jesus and Paul were not denying their religion . . . ; they were faithfully extending it, letting it grow and flow forward. In Jesus’s words, they weren’t “abolishing the law,” but rather they were “fulfilling it”—fulfilling its intent, fulfilling its potential (Matthew 5:17). Love was already part of the tradition, as Deuteronomy 6:5 makes clear; they were saying it was the most important part of the tradition. They were decentering old things—religious rules, temples, sacrifice, hierarchies, and the like—and recentering the tradition on love.

Gateway to Silence:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. —Proverbs 3:5