...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Saturday, May 25, 2013

God's love leads to more awareness

What does it mean that God first loved?
I used to have questions about the Christian proclamation declaring sin universal in the human family. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it seemed it was all too easy an excuse. Hearing we are sinners every Sunday, why would anyone be surprised if behaving badly was soon to follow?

While some describe sin as rebellion against God, it's also resistance, because the condition, however subtle or apparent, is not one we are free from, at least in this life.    

Too often I get the impression that if I come to Jesus, my rebellion against God's love is somehow solved and I don't have to worry about it anymore. Mainly, I get something (eternal life in heaven) for myself.

This approach is tragic because it can foster self deception. I can use my faith to cover whatever darkness that remains in the corners of my life. Hidden from others and myself, I can convince myself that the injury I caused never really happened. The contemplative Thomas Keating would call this "selective memory." We defuse this process when in Step 8, we "make a list" of all those we have harmed.   

Many, if not all, religions provide a taxonomy of who the sinners are, along with a classification of what sins are better or worse. That could describe both the religion of Jesus' day and in our churches. For example, sinners in the New Testament are associated with disability and sickness, education and class, occupation and family tree, nation and race.
But even if we choose resistance, it's the loving Trinity's life in us that gives us the desire and opportunity to bear fruit that is sustainable and lasting.  God doesn't lead us to take roads that lead to nowhere. We're first created in God's image, surrounded by grace and love. 

This is what it means when the Apostle declared that before we loved, God first loved us (I John 4:19)  And that applies to every one of us--even more than our persistent turning away from God. Once upon a time, when God called us out of being into life and light God loved us into being. God's never stopped loving you. 

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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