Monday, November 10, 2008

Reconciliation to a God on the move

"Be reconciled to God!" Paul urges, and the Church has long echoed him. Many have said that the key here is to accept or appropriate Christ's sacrifice through a prayer to God. Essentially, "the gift" of God is forgiveness (which can be important coming from the God who made and fills heaven and hell), and our job is to simply receive this gift. That's it. That's the "good news." And if God wasn't an object in motion, and we humans weren't objects in motion, I'd pretty much leave it at that myself. But we are all on the move; and not just random movements, either. Does "reconciliation to God" have anything to do with the nature and direction of my movements in life compared with his?

Years ago my wife and I had a long, good talk about intimacy. Specifically we talked about whether our intimacy level as husband and wife was limited by the extent that our direction or goals in life differed. Essentially, we agreed that it was. I keep thinking about this regarding God. If God had no particular goals for the world or for me; no real agenda for what I became, what I love, what I trust, what I hate, what I do from day to day--absent, say, really harming someone--then getting a blanket of forgiveness for any particular offenses in the past or future would pretty much complete, our 'reconciliation'. I'm okay, he's okay, we're okay--reconciliation done.

But God does have a very definite goal for me--and not just me. He has a dream for the whole world and heaven as well, and he is passionate about it, willing to go through the crucifiction for it. He has a clear direction and he is very, very active--every moment, around the world--in bringing his dream to pass, training and working with those who become his children and co-workers in his great dream.

So, I agree, "Be reconciled to God!" But I'm convinced that's going to mean more than just receiving his forgiveness for past and future wrongs. It's going to mean learning to love what he loves, learning to work with him for his dream and making it our own, giving up our alternative plans and dreams that don't fit in. It's going to require following his lead. In a nutshell, it's going to require a process of becoming, or discipleship. Because we all, God willing, are going to continue to live and act in this world, affecting everyone around us in various degrees, towards various ends. So is God. The question is, are we working with him, towards his goals, or not. Jesus put it this way: "If you're not working with me, you're working against me. Either you're helping me gather things together, or you're scattering them further apart." Let's learn to be part of the Solution, and learn to stop being part of the problem. Also, let's know that this is what it means to be reconciled to this God who is in motion--receiving his forgiveness, absolutely, within the context of learning to move and act with him, from his Son who knows all about his Father's intentions and plans and ways of acting.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Prayer & Meditation

Alright. Let me just say that step 11 has been a surprise. I'll be straight up honest. I kind of expected, as a long-time Christian now doing the steps as a tool in my apprenticeship to Jesus, that I had already been working step 11 for years, so I'd just kind of jump right into 12 once I got there. Then I got to step 11 and felt like God just made it an inescapable question: "Don't you need to improve your conscious contact with me? Hasn't your inner life gotten weaker and weaker over the years in many ways?" The Holy Spirit and the habit of greater honesty with God and myself that the previous steps had just instilled has kept me from saying "no" to either question. So I'm now in the middle of seeking to improve my conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation. And I'm very grateful to be doing so.

On that front, some of the online Christian Classics, particularly Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living, has been really helping me, along with listening and reading the Message, as well as a more typical bible.