Monday, September 25, 2017

The Poor and Spiritual Growth


 

Dependence, humility, simplicity, cooperation, and a sense of abandon are qualities greatly prized in the spiritual life, but extremely elusive for people who live in comfort. There may be other ways to God, but oh, they are hard—as hard as a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle. In the Great Reversal of God’s kingdom, prosperous saints are very rare.

I do not believe the poor to be more virtuous than anyone else (though I have found them more compassionate and often more generous), but they are less likely to pretend to be virtuous. They have not the arrogance of the middle class, who can skillfully disguise their problems under a facade of self-righteousness. They are more naturally dependent, because they have no choice; they must depend on others simply to survive.

-Phillip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Law of Life II: We Need One Another

It is not good for man to be alone.


This ancient declaration written at the dawn of human history reflects our deepest longing and fundamental requirement for survival. We need one another. We were created to be in relationships. The great ecology of the person is community. The fundamental unit of humanity is family. We were never meant to be an island, a rugged individual. We are not to be autonomous or anonymous beings.  


In our fallen and broken state, there stands a great paradox. Though we need one another, we have a heck of a time getting along with one another. I can’t live with you. I can’t live without you. Poison and wine. Taken for granted. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  In the cataclysm of sin, we form relationships that melt under the fire of our brokenness.  

Yet, we need one another. In fact, the great training ground for our character – molding and refining us from our self-centered and prideful state into persons of compassion, patience and forgiveness – are human relationships. When we commit to another – a friend, a husband, a wife, a son or daughter, a father or mother – and stay in relationship with that other come hell or high water, we are transformed into the likeness of God. For God is fundamentally relationship. God is love. That love has no meaning except in relationship to another. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is in relationship. In our human relationships, through the spiritual virtues of humility and faithfulness we forge that love.

I’m reminded of the nautical term – hold fast. We need to cling to those given to us by God. As the Master said, what God has brought together, man should not tear apart. In the divine mystery, those relationships we find ourselves in were not simply of our own doing or choosing. Through providential good will, that Other you are in relationship with was ordained by the Conductor of the Universe. Hold fast to that other, no matter what. Never ever let go. There will be strains, storms, fights, conflict, and a litany of dark emotions that will inevitably rise up between you and the other person. But do not let go. That storm is the crucible for your becoming a beautiful human being. If you forsake that Other, you forfeit your soul. Hold fast.


Hold fast to your spouse, your friend, your mother, your father, your son or your daughter. You need one another. We need one another.