Archive for August, 2020

Taking Up the Cross

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Humans tortured and crucified Jesus. Abba didn’t. For Jesus, taking up his cross describes his self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering love response.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 148

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 23, 2020

One Caring Foot

Friday, August 28th, 2020

The Spirit seems to work best underground. When aboveground, humans start fighting about it.

You can call this grace, the indwelling Holy Spirit, or just evolution toward union (which we call “love”). God is not in competition with anybody, but only in deep-time cooperation with everybody who loves (Romans 8:28). Whenever we place one caring foot forward, God uses it, sustains it, and blesses it. Our impulse does not need to wear the name of religion at all.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 100

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 23, 2020

Agents of Healing and Change

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

In this way, the spiritual eyes through which we see the world change everything. If our default lens is sin, we tend to look ahead to the afterlife, but if we focus on suffering, we’ll lean toward presently transforming the planet in real time — and we’ll create community accordingly. The former seeks to help people escape the encroaching moral decay by getting them into heaven; the latter takes seriously the prayer Jesus teaches his disciples, that they would make the kingdom come — that through lives resembling Christ and work that perpetuates his work, we would actually bring heaven down. Practically speaking, sin management seems easier because essentially all that is required of us is to preach, to call out people’s errors and invite them to repentance, and to feel we’ve been faithful. But seeing suffering requires us to step into the broken, jagged chaos of people’s lives to be agents of healing and change. It’s far more time consuming and much more difficult to do as a faith community. It is a lot easier to train preachers to lead people in a Sinner’s Prayer than it is to equip them to address the systematic injustices around them.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 125

Photo: Isle of Staffa, Scotland, July 13, 2003

All People Were Always Welcome.

Friday, August 21st, 2020

The violent death of Jesus on the cross revealed the truth about the great problem of human sin and violence. The truth is that such violence comes from us; not God. When we see this in how we killed Jesus, His violent death on the cross reveals that God never wanted or needed blood sacrifice or sacred violence of any kind in order for people to draw near to Him. All people were always welcome. We can draw near to God simply because we have no reason to stay away from Him. He has always loved us, and always forgiven us. One group is not more or less sinful than anyone else. All are invited in. All are welcome. The blood of Jesus has brought everyone near, by proving that no one was ever kept at a distance. All divisions of men are nothing more than man-made divisions, and now Jesus has torn them all down, giving us all equal access to God and equal standing before Him.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 246

Photo: View from Stirling Castle, Scotland, July 2003

Perfect Love

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Abba‘s hand is love through and through, even in his most severe mercy. Paul, like Hosea before him, was convinced that it’s “the kindness of God that leads to repentance.” More to the point, Christ demonstrated and taught that perfect holiness — for God and for us — consists only in perfect love. Righteousness is not mere taboo avoidance, but the genuine faith of unselfish (cruciform) love.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 73

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 22, 2004

No Shame

Monday, August 17th, 2020

We must learn how to recognize the positive flow and to distinguish it from the negative resistance within ourselves. It takes years, I think. If a voice comes from accusation and leads to accusation, it is quite simply the voice of the “Accuser,” which is the literal meaning of the biblical word “Satan.” Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. It is how we talk. God is supremely nonviolent, and I have learned that from the saints and mystics that I have read and met and heard about. That many holy people cannot be wrong.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 89

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003

A Priceless Experience

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

It seems we acquire the most strength and wisdom
at those points in our lives that are the most difficult.
Later on, we think back on those difficult times,
on what we learned from them
and how we came through them.
Then we realize that they have been
a priceless experience for us.

— Haemin Sunim, Love for Imperfect Things, p. 161

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 7, 2020

Compassion, Not Contempt

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

In the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus looks upon the crowd gathered before him and is deeply burdened by what he sees, not because of what they are doing or not doing, but because of what is being done to them and what it is creating in them (9:35-38). He is moved in that moment, not by some moral defect but by their internal turmoil. Just as when he feeds the multitudes, Jesus is not concerned with behavior modification, as we so often imagine; he is most concerned with meeting the needs that prevent people from knowing their belovedness, and he offers an expression of God’s provision. Matthew records that Jesus, seeing those in front of him, notes not their conduct but their condition, observing that they are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” This realization prompts a passionate, public appeal for those who would do the work of restoration and healing in the name of God. The distinction between seeing sin and seeing suffering is revelatory if we really let it seep into the deepest hollows of our hearts. Jesus’ default response to the fragile humanity before him is not contempt but compassion.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 124

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 7, 2020

God Forgives.

Friday, August 7th, 2020

The blood of Jesus reveals that God does not lash out at human sin and does not retaliate or seek revenge. Though we humans do such things (and often blame our behavior on God), God always and only forgives, loves, rescues, and redeems. We thought we were pleasing and appeasing God when we killed Jesus, just as we thought that all blood sacrifices to God were given as propitiatory sacrifices, but in reality, this attempt to please God turned out to be the greatest sin ever committed by humans. And even then, what did God do? He forgave this sin, just as He always does.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 240-241

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 7, 2020

Our Actual, Non-Ideal Selves

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Christians should help one another to silence the voice that accuses. To celebrate a repentance — a snapping out of it, a thinking of new thoughts — which leads to possibilities we never considered. To love one another as God loves us. To love ourselves as God loves us. To remind each other of the true voice of God. And there’s only one way to do this: by being unapologetically and humbly ourselves. By not pretending. By being genuine. Real. Our actual, non-ideal selves.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless, p. 183

Photo: near Skyline Drive, Virginia, August 6, 2009