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This reflection from a daily meditation that I receive has been sitting in my inbox for quite some time. I come back to it again and again. I think that it has sat in my inbox for a few reasons.
The first reason is that for countless people with whom I have had conversations about this very matter of being received and accepted for who we are as we are is just not the experience of your average Christian. To not put too fine a point on it, Rohr hits the most significant nail right on the head once again.
The second reason I have been thinking about this allot is that I have noticed that a few people who hold some kind of thought leadership position in the Christian movement try to articulate this but it comes across as a concept and an idea as opposed to their own experience out of which they speak.
I’m convinced that the only way we can “teach” this is by giving ourselves to this dangerous reality, then slowing down for long enough to give others who live and work along side us the opportunity to witness to this reality in our life, relationship and work.
I have observed some “leaders” do this and the effect is quite remarkable, life giving, gracious and transforming fruit that lasts.
The ones that are trying to communicate this in the realm of concepts and ideas elicit strong feelings of sadness inside of me, because it appears to me that the struggle they face to move from concept to experience seems so desperate and apparent. Their public attempts at seeking this centred place mirror my own and I hurt for them, praying for the private moments that will hopefully lead to a quiet revolution.
I remember years ago bumping into the teachings of a Christian fellow around the subject of leadership. His formula was “leadership = influence”. It always made me feel uncomfortable. It took me a while to connect with my intuition on the subject. I don’t think that leadership is about influence. If I influence someone, it stands to reason that someone else can come along later and influence them all over again.
It was thinking through this stuff that led me to my own definition of leadership.
Leadership = transformation
It then led me to another phrase I use regularly.
Only transformed people can transform.
My the place of God’s ludicrous, scandalous, gracious utter acceptance transform us all.
One of Jesus’ most revealing one-liners is, “Rejoice only that your name is written in heaven!” (Luke 10:20). If we could fully trust this, it would change our whole life agenda. This discovery will not create overstated or presumptuous individualists, as religion usually fears, but instead makes all posturing and pretending largely unnecessary. Our core anxiety that we are not good enough is resolved from the beginning, and we can stop all our climbing, contending, criticizing, and competing. All “accessorizing” of any small, fragile self henceforth shows itself to be a massive waste of time and energy. Costume jewelry is just that, a small part of an already unnecessary costume.
Most of Christian history has largely put the cart of requirements before the “horsepower” itself, thinking that loads of carts, or the best cart, will eventually produce the horse. It never does. The horsepower is precisely our experience of primal union with God. Find God, the primary source, and the springwater will forever keep flowing (Ezekiel 47:1-12; John 7:38) naturally. Once you know that, the problem of inferiority, unworthiness, or low self-esteem is resolved from the beginning and at the core. You can then spend your time much more positively, marching in the “triumphal parade” (2 Corinthians 2:14), as Paul so playfully calls it.
Thanks Doug Hynd for this grace giving wisdom today.
“Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.” (Quaker Book of Discipline)
I thought that for this week’s entry, I would include Richard Rohr’s daily meditation in its entirety. This is one of those “daily” meditations that might take me at least the rest of the week to digest, if not the rest of the year.
The spirituality behind the Twelve-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a “low Church” approach to evangelization and healing that is probably our only hope in a pluralistic world of over seven billion people. Most of these people are not going to “become Christian” or join our church, which even the Vatican now admits.
Our suffering in developed countries is primarily psychological, relational, and addictive: the suffering of people who are comfortable on the outside but oppressed and empty within. It is a crisis of meaninglessness, which leads us to try to find meaning in possessions, perks, prestige, and power, which are always outside of the self. It doesn’t finally work. So we turn to ingesting food, drink, or drugs, and we become addictive consumers to fill the empty hole within us.
The Twelve-Step Program walks us back out of our addictive society. Like all steps toward truth and Spirit, they also lead downward, which they callsobriety. Bill Wilson and his A.A. movement have shown us that the real power is when we no longer seek, need, or abuse outer power because we have found real power within. They rightly call it our “Higher Power.”