Wednesday, March 5, 2008

the root of Christian love

For some years now, I've been getting a morning email from Wayne Burns, with a quote from Merton. Lately, they have seemed especially simple yet profound to me. This one was from this morning. I love the turning of emphasis away from something that we are supposed to "do", and the reaching to a deeper, before source of love.

"The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved. That faith that one is loved by God. That faith that one is loved by God although unworthy -- or, rather, irrespective of one's worth."

(NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION, page 75)

4 comments:

  1. Profoundly true, but so difficult to accept at a deeper level. We are so good at finding ways to avoid receiving/believing the love which is given us unconditionally.

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  2. ... and we always want to live in the disguises ...

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  3. my experience is a little different. In the very beginning I was absolutely clueless about anything connected to Christianity and love, except basic conceptions. I came to evangelical confession when I was around 20. I was full of hopes, dreams, and was looking ahead with a bright hope, that if you are strong, kind, outgoing person, you’ll reach everything in your life. I came to church curious, hopeful, and joyful. When I hit 22 I “left” the church destroyed, discouraged, and full of hurt. Well, someone can say I was not good enough, not smart, wise or organized. That’s of course partly true, was I wrong as a human, as a sinner – no doubt. The question is was I treated right and the way I’m supposed to? Absolutely no. In this article I’m trying to warn others, so that you’d not have a ruined life, relationship and future, only because of people that think they are better than you are.
    So…I came to church and started to get to know Christians and The God, Christians became an example for me, the things that I saw on the outside were really wonderful, I felt like this is the place where I’m understood and accepted just as I am, the place where I can rely on people and tell out my inmost dreams and fears…how terribly I was wrong. I always believed in God, and do sincerely love Him. But when everything happened I started to doubt my very faith, and if I need to continue living at all. In about a year I met a girl in church where she was a leader, we liked each other at one moment, we talked for hours, and spend days together. I started to think that I don’t need heaven, I’m fine enough right here. We spent most of the time together, and she spent less time doing her ministry and spending less time with pastor’s family, especially with his wife and kids she used to play all the time. I liked the pastor, he seemed like a nice guy, I used to tend to trust people, thank God not anymore. One day she told me, that the pastor talked to her and advised her not to spend so much time with me, not to have me in her house alone, and in general not to have me alone near her, I could never understand that because I was always trying to please people, to do good to them, including pastor. I and her didn’t do anything sinful. That’s why I was in complete shock! He came up to me and explained it as a need for her to do more for God. How in the world can any boy/girl relationship grow on that basis? No way! It’s going to be killed, which basically did happen! It was a deliberate, thought through attack. I was young and inexperienced in relationships, that’s why I couldn’t understand what was right thing to do, I started to really believe that there’s something wrong with me, because of course they are older and more spiritual, but the need to see her was too strong. She was also fighting it, but because she was burnt on previous relationships she was more careful, and “respected” the higher authority, because the Bible says: “…respect and be obedient to any authority, since it’s established by God” Was Nazi authority established by God as well? I doubt it.
    Several times we met together in the café, just two of us, I continued to call her and persisted on spending more time with her.
    At the same time the pastor was making his own black work. He was threatening her to leave the church if she continues to meet with me, which for her as it appeared was not acceptable. He told me that she is supposed to lead ministry, and not to date, how he came to that decision? I have no freaking idea, but as he said: “God told me that.” Well God told ME that I love my girl! After I “disobeyed” a couple of times, he told me he was giving me the last chance, after that he’ll ask me to leave the church. I was struggling between seeing her, and do what I was told. Whoever loved, will understand me…not to see the one you love equals death. She was hurting, I could see it in her eyes, but since it wasn’t her first problematic relationship, she didn’t suffer as much. Apparently she didn’t love me.
    At the same time I started to notice that the “body of the church” changed towards me. Leaders smirked, and avoided me, sometimes they even threw insults in my face, but not obvious ones. In general what I noticed, the biggest problem in church is hypocrisy, and so called religious leaders. Of course for me that was the biggest shock of my life, I’ve never been treated like that before, and even complete unbelievers didn’t hurt me that much. Of course they say: “the most hurt is from the ones that are close to you”.
    Anyway its impossible to make this story short. The pastor said we can see each other in Bible studies or other events, which were miraculously canceled quite often, and created the situation when we could meet once or twice a week, and talk to each other sometimes only for five minutes a week! I was broken, no one seemed to understand, the church…the very church that was supposed to give hope and compassion turned down on me and despised me. It was a place filled with evil, all they preached in a matter of days vanished and became an empty sound, all they talked about for thousands of hours, was nothing but a movement of their mouths. In the 2nd Cor. it is being described in a very good way: “if I am ‘everything’ but don’t have love, I’m just an empty sound”.
    I was on the edge, wired, nervous, desperate, without help, my own…I broke…, in one of the last days I tried to kiss her, I “committed sin”, the pastor asked me to leave the church, I expected that…I left the church, after some period of time I had a chance to return and be a part of that church once again, but I never did.
    Have you ever heard the expression “Catch 22”? it’s when no matter what decision you make, you fail anyway. The whole failure in this relationship was predicted from the very beginning, someone can say “it is Gods will what had happened”, I don’t know about that, but I don’t think we should mix such notions as “Gods will” and “Satan schemes”.
    Right now I’m married, I have a beautiful wife, whom I love very much. To say that I’m fine with what happened…NO, I am not. I wish it never happened. Many times after that Satan was trying to destroy my dating with my present wife through the church, or destroy my faith for the better. It failed, I’m standing on firm ground, and can recognize any of His schemes.
    My advice to anyone who is dating, will date, or knows someone in that position – I advise you all, to be very careful with your love, don’t give a chance to Satan to crawl like a worm inside and eat it all. Love if one of the most precious moments of life, protect it, and if it’s necessary – fight…fight like lions for it, don’t be afraid, you WONT LOSE MORE THAN THAT EVER. Be very careful with telling someone you love her, because that’s what Satan is going to use against you after. A good friend of mine once said: “you made the biggest mistake in all of that, you confessed you love her, to pastor, to her, and to others, once you do that you are in trap, it can be used against you, she can say: “YES, NO, OR GIVE ME TIME” After that nothing is going to depend on you, you won’t be free. She can do whatever she wants with you. She can even look for a better match, while keeping you on the hook. You’ll be helpless, you going to call her but she’ll tell you she doesn’t have time, you’ll ask her if she likes you, but she vaguely answer that she needs time. Check the one you like, and if she is open and positive about you, slowly but CAREFULY push closer, if you feel like she’s backing out, it can mean only 2, and ONLY 2 things, 1st she needs time, or 2nd she’s dragging time because she doesn’t really care about you, and is keeping you because there’s no one around yet. In BOTH cases the only answer - is to back out, never push the process, however painful it is to you, believe me it’s checked in real life. You might have heard another very wise life thing: “if you are in a relationship and she doesn’t call, sometimes it’s very useful to give time and not to call first for a couple of days. It is good to pursue a girl, but to a point…
    In the end I would like to wish to all people that strife for good, to seek what is good, cling to good people, and keep away from everything that makes you SICK. Don’t be afraid to be bold, to stand up, to say that you ARE human as well and you have the same rights, for God made us all free and gave us all equal rights.

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  4. dear anonymous,
    I'm very sorry for your suffering. I hope that things are better now.
    beth

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