The last word…

open door, rock chapel

Following on from my previous post, I have been thinking a lot about the grace of God recently. Hardly surprising, as I am frequently in need of huge doses of it, but also because I have been immersed in thoughts about our understandings of hell, redemption and atonement.

As part of this I re-read Brian McLaren’s book “The Last Word, and the Word After that” which adventures into this territory. I read the whole thing in one sleepless night, hungry as I was to try to come to some view of these things myself.

From this, I wrote this;

The last word

 

I was reading a story from the Gospel of Mark about

Jesus. It was one of the hard passages where he uses

words that bite – words that leave no space for

my failure.

Jesus told his disciples to stand up for him before men and

the angels will sing. However those who disown

him will be lost – sent out in

disgrace.

 

And then I remembered Peter.

Rock of the Church.

Three time sinner before the crow of the cock.

 

Then I remembered too the story of the Garden where

God tells Adam (and Eve) that if they eat the fruit of the tree they shall surely die.

Not in abstract; they had no concept of the legacy left by the origin of their sin.

Yet they do not die, and God

cares for them, clothes them, sends them out onto the human race

like an anxious parent.

 

There is God’s

last word –

and the

word

after

that

 

which is always

‘grace’.

 

(with apologies to Brian Mclaren for pinching his book title.)

Spiritual maturity and the pursuit of significance…

We humans are so contradictory. Sometimes we are driven to destroy anyone or anything in our pursuit of personal gain. At other times we are capable of such incredible self sacrifice in pure service of the other. Always we hope that life is more than mere bio mechanics- it has to mean something.

For men in particular, this contradiction often creates some kind of deep void that we spend a lifetime’s journey trying to fill. We believe that the only good life is a life a success. And ultimately success has to be measurable against the failure of others- against the poverty of others, the lack of creativity in others, the lack of godliness in others, even the lack of love in others.

The problem is that success is so fickle- life moves the goalposts constantly and so we feel constantly diminished.

The void remains.

I read this today;

It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your ‘I’ is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary ‘I.’ No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.

Richard Rohr

It seemed to me that there was a deep spiritual significance in this. What is this thing that we are becoming as we seek to live deeper, more meaningful, more loving lives? Is it really to be bigger, or is it more about recognising that we are small?

Small that is, like a beloved child, whose achievements might be indeed be celebrated, but in no way make us any more (or any less) beloved.

If only it was so simple.

But then again, I am still immature. I have a lot of growing to do yet.