Monday, May 28, 2007

Come As You Are

Come as you are – no perfect people allowed.

This is at the heart of who we are as a “church” (recognizing that we are a small part of a greater whole). Sometimes those who don’t follow Christ respond with skepticism, and rightfully so; I cannot love perfectly but I believe that God can and it is up to me to respond to His leading.

One of the ironies I have found is that when we state this as a value a few Christians have responded with fearfulness.

“What do you believe? Do you teach the Bible?” they ask. What I read between the lines is that there are certain types of people who they cannot imagine God loving or accepting for who they are.

Contrary to that mindset, Henri Nouwen explains:

Living in the intimacy of God’s house, we gradually come to know the mysterious truth that the God who loves us with a perfect love includes all people in that love without diminishing in any way the unique quality of God’s love for each individual person.

This is probably one of the hardest things for us to understand. In our competitive world we are so used to thinking in terms of “more” and “less” that we cannot easily see how God can love all human beings with the same unlimited love while at the same time loving each one of them in a totally unique way. Somehow we feel that our election involves another’s rejection, that our uniqueness involves another’s commonness. Somehow, we think we can only fully enjoy our being loved by God if others are loved less than we are…

When we enter into the household of God, we come to realize that the fragmentation of humanity and its agony grow from the false supposition that all human beings have to fight for their right to be appreciated and loved. In the house of God’s love we come to see with new eyes and hear with new ears and thus recognize that all people, whatever their race, religion, sex, wealth, intelligence, or background, belong to that same house. God’s house has no dividing walls or closed doors. “I am the door,” Jesus says. “Anyone who enters through me will be safe” (John 10:9). The more we fully enter into the house of love, the more clearly we see that we are there together with all humanity and that in and through Christ we are brothers and sisters, members of one family. (Lifesigns by: Henri Nouwen)

We are broken and hurting and cannot truly restore order for ourselves or for the wrecked world that we live in. Coming home to life in God is to come home to the place of perfect love and perfect order that He lives and moves and has His being in. To say, “come as you are” is to acknowledge one’s own humble position within the bounds of God’s perfect love. Fred Rogers said, “You know, I think everybody longs to be loved and longs to know that he or she is loveable. And, consequently, the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”

We prove that we do not know God when we respond with fear or rivalry towards others rather than responding with this spirit of loving inclusion that Nouwen and Rogers speak of.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hope Pinned

Writing of any kind is a monologue. Fiction, nonfiction - it's all just some person's thoughts and opinions packaged in so many different ways.
I've been reading Anne Lamott recently. She has her own set of opinions and I am fascinated by them. This is mainly because they are not my own and I am glad for relief from my inner dialog. At one point she writes about hope and her words resonated with me:
The reason I never give up hope is that everything is basically hopeless. Hopelessness underscores everything - the deep sadness and fear at the center of life, the holes in the heart of our families, the animal confusion within us. When you do give up hope, a lot can happen. When it's not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it may float forth and open like those fluted Japanese blossoms, flimsy and spastic, bright and warm. This almost always seems to happen in community: with family, related by blood, or chosen:at church, for me; at peace marches. (from Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith)

I mainly like the bit about expectation. I don't necessarily agree with her statement that everything is basically hopeless although I do think that it is without God. i am curious to read her latest book because, honestly, I thought she was positively neurotic in Plan B. I just have to see if she is trusting more and fearing less.