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“The crisis of American spirituality, put bluntly, is Spirit versus flesh. The failure or flat refusal to abide in the mind of Christ creates duality and separation within us. We do not choose decisively between God and Mammon, and our procrastination constitutes a decision itself. We carefully distribute ourselves between flesh and Spirit with a watchful eye on both.
The unwillingness to sustain ourselves with the awareness that we are children of God causes a spiritual schizophrenia of the most frightening kind. It is not that I am afraid to tell you who I am; I truly cannot tell you because I don’t know myself who I am. I have not given the deep inner assent to my Christian identity. I am afraid of losing my life if I were to find my real self. God calls me by my name, and I do not answer because I do not know my name.”
– Brennan Manning
Jesus always seemed to know who he was. Throughout his life there was a developing awareness of his person and mission, but he always had a coherent sense of self. His habitual self-awareness and unwavering fidelity to his mission stand in contrast to how we live in contemporary American society. A lifestyle centered on security, pleasure, and power precludes the possibility of establishing any coherent sense of self for the simple reason that these desires peremptorily exclude God.
Just as the mind of Christ Jesus created his world, so too do our minds create our worlds. An ego grasping for security, pleasure, and power freely barters self-awareness for something that will enhance the mirage of fulfillment that these desires brings. Our addictive patterns – our expectations, desires, attachments, demands and mental models – dominate our perception of self, others, and the world. This grasping, manipulative focus keeps us on that roller-coaster ride of pleasure and disappointment that makes continuity of character and fidelity to vision impossible. – Brennan Manning, “The Importance of Being Foolish”
Upon the disciples’ jubilant return from the active ministry, Jesus counsels them in preserving their humanness and centering in their self-awareness: “‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” (Mark 6:31-32).
It is important to keep these times of withdrawal in the context and rhythm of Jesus’s very active and busy life. Such moments of prayer are always oriented to his presence in the world. The major decisions of his life … are always preceded by a night alone on the mountaintop. …
One cannot but think of the number of wrong marriages, wrong jobs, wrong personal relationships, and all the concomitant suffering that would be avoided if Christians submitted their decision-making process to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and shared in his intimate trust in God’s direction. … God knows each of us by name and is deeply involved in the dramas of our personal existence. Within this climate of trust we can confidently search to discern the will of God. – Brennan Manning, “The Importance of Being Foolish”
In the final foolishness of love, Jesus freely accepts death on the cross. It is the ultimate act of trust, the climax of a life lived in God. Jesus knows who he is. On the deepest level of his existence, Jesus reaffirms his position as Son-Servant-Beloved of the Father and fulfills his mission. Jesus’s death on the cross gives final, definitive, and everlasting form to his spiritual identity and to his intimate, loving trust in God. …
The heart of God is Jesus’s hiding place, a strong protective space where God is near, where connection is renewed, where trust, love, and self-awareness never die but are continually rekindled. In times of opposition, rejection, hatred, and danger, Jesus retreats to that hiding place where he is loved. … In the fact of mounting incomprehension and mistrust, the Father alone understand him. “No one knows who the Son is except the Father” (Luke 10:22). … nothing can remove Jesus from his Father’s love. … Nothing must interfere with proclaiming the good news of eternal life and helping people move into a way of life that will enable them to grow toward eternity–a way of peace and justice with room for human dignity to be recognized and for love to blossom. – Brennan Manning “The Importance of Being Foolish”
So it begins
What would not end
If one lived a thousand lives
of mind, of meaning
of faith, beseeching
Still hope cries out
What truth, disguised
This poem by Liz Hupp was shared in the book When God Weeps
I saw the woman in the chair; she was in church again today.
Someone said they’ve sold their house; they’re going to move away.
No! I cried, they cannot go; they cannot move away.
I didn’t get to know her; there’s something I need to say:
Please tell me your secret; I want to sit at your feet,
I need to know how you handle the pain that is your daily meat.
How do you keep on smiling when each day your health grows worse?
How do you keep depending on God when you’re living with a curse?
Every time I see her; her smile comes from deep within.
I know her fellowship with God isn’t scarred by the chair she’s in.
She admits her health is failing; she knows she’s fading away.
How can she remain so calm when I’d be running away?
My friend, can you tell me how you can trust the Lord
How can you stay so gentle and sweet when He seems to wield a sword?
You are to me a promise that even in the midst of pain
God is near and faithful if I will turn to Him again.
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"It all means more than I can tell you. So you must not judge what I know by what I find words for." -Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
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