Perfect Love

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Not a Punitive God

August 4th, 2020

In his critique of his father and uncles, Jung recognized that many humans had become reflections of the punitive God they worshiped. A forgiving God allows us to recognize the good in the supposed bad, and the bad in the supposed perfect or ideal. Any view of God as tyrannical or punitive tragically keeps us from admitting these seeming contradictions. It keeps us in denial about our true selves, and forces us to live on the surface of our own lives. If God is a shaming figure, then most of us naturally learn to deny deflect, or pass on that shame to others. If God is torturer in chief, then a punitive and moralistic society is validated all the way down. We are back into problem-solving religion instead of healing and transformation.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 84-85.

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 1, 2020

Practicing Happiness

July 31st, 2020

Before you lay your head on your pillow and go to sleep,
recall just three things you were thankful for today.
If you continue to do this for two months,
you will see an increase in your level of happiness,
because instead of focusing on what is wrong with your life,
you will develop a habit of looking for what is good.
A happy mind-set needs practice.

— Haemin Sunim, Love for Imperfect Things, p. 66

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 2, 2020

Moralism

July 28th, 2020

You know moralism has displaced your life in Christ when living faith is reduced to a system of correct behavior and moral merit badges instead of a dynamic relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit. We don’t acquire the presence of the Holy Spirit by accumulating moral merit badges.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 72

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 11, 2000

The Eyes of Christ

July 25th, 2020

Other followers of Jesus see something different when they look at the mess in front of them. They see pain. They see need. They see longing. They see an opportunity to bring restoration here and now. They are focused as much on this world as they are on the next. These, I’ll contend, are the eyes of Christ, and these are the eyes of those who would build the bigger table. We are learning to see differently than we once did.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 124

Photo: SchloƟ Dhaun, Germany, July 2002