Tag Archives: love

What’s Wrong with Everybody and What’s Been Done About It?

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If you’ve tried wading through the writings of Christian mystics, Eastern philosophers, and general theology, etc., you’ll probably agree that it’s all confusing. There’s an awful lot of competition for truth! Recently, I decided to boil down what I’ve read and attempt a summary statement about our cosmic situation. I originally wrote this for myself, but I thought some of you might be wrestling with similar ideas. Warning: it’s boring, but hopefully it might fuel some interest in your trying such an exercise for yourself.

One man’s cosmic overview:

We humans began created in the image of God, thus given an identity and purpose in a state called the ‘Original Self.’ As such, we were intended to live in innocent dependence within the abundant joy of divine love. A important faculty of the Original-Self is free will…the ability to make a moral choice.

Present in the universe is a force that is opposed to love and we call it ‘Evil.’ Tempted by Evil, the Original-Self violates its innocence when it chooses to pursue wisdom (wholeness in life) apart from dependence on divine love. Thus, the Original-Self abandons God and overthrows itself by effectively creating a false self–an alter-ego called the ‘Egoic-self.’ The consequences are the disruption of communion with God and the emergence of the forces of fear, shame, and their many tangential miseries.

In response, the Egoic-self desperately reacts by searching for love. By its very nature, the Egoic-self remains committed to autonomy from God. Therefore, it ultimately seeks love from destructive sirens such as power/control, celebrity, perfectionism, achievement, beauty, order, knowledge, etc.

However, God has not abandoned the Original-Self. Truth is offered as a means of exposing the Egoic-self to the light of Christ-love…the unconditional Love of God as revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Original-Self is invited to surrender to Christ-love and restore communion with God, breaking the power of the Egoic-self.

A restored Original-Self is thus liberated from the domination of the Egoic-self and its ally Evil–but not their presence. For this reason, continued spiritual transformation is an ongoing struggle that characterizes the normal Christian life.

That’s It. The problems of the universe are now solved. Thanks for reading.

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Is God good?

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I know I’m supposed to think so. After all, the Bible says he is, preachers  preach it, Sunday School teachers declare it. Guilt threatens me when I doubt it.

But is God good? Look at this picture.

My grandmother was as godly a woman as I ever knew. Right before going into brain surgery she took my hand and said, ‘God is good.’ When she woke up from surgery she spent nine years in a state of borderline incoherence and anxiety…a state of confused present tense from which there was no relief but sleep. When she finally died, the preacher said that ‘God had given her a season of rest after serving others for all those years.’

Sorry, Reverend…but nice try.

My grandfather was a Bible church pastor for decades. Before he died, I visited him in the nursing home where he was tied to his chair that sat beneath a plaque of Romans 8:28: ‘All things work together for good.’

Really? I had a lot of trouble with that.

I’m sure you have more terrible stories, and the history of mankind is certainly replete with human suffering. This fact is the greatest obstacle to faith. If you doubt that, walk through a children’s cancer ward and then be honest with yourself.

So now what? Well, I’m just an ordinary man who thinks too much. I’m not a grand theologian, an expert philosopher or sage. So I’ve struggled like most of you, and without benefit of all the resources that don’t seem to help anyway. So here’s a few of my ‘notes to self’ on this whopper of a problem:

First…I expect to learn someday that God was very pleased with those of us who were angry at him for all the misery in this world. Our anger reflects spirits of love and compassion for those whom I do actually very much believe God loves.

Second…the issue is not as simple as it seems. We could just conclude that if evil is, then God isn’t. Or we could believe that evil proves that God is weak, or that he doesn’t really care. It’s actually pretty easy and very tempting to just take that and be done.

But if I’m willing to look more deeply at the world around me, another mystery emerges. I see love. I see people everywhere outraged at suffering and doing all sorts of good things about it. Why outrage? Why not indifference? Why is there love in the universe? Where did it come from? Why is it here? So now I have two mysteries to wrestle with: the presence of evil and the presence of love.

So where does THAT leave me?

Well, what if God is love…just like the Bible says…but that on account of his love he chooses to limit his presence so as to not overwhelm his creation? Overwhelming us would mean turning us and the natural course of his Creation into a robotic playground. Further, what if, for our freedom’s sake, he allows evil to exist? That’s a deep one, but simply said, freedom requires choice, and choice would therefore require the existence of opposing options. Still, the child in this picture does not appear to be the victim of her own choices, and I would like to think that God wouldn’t mess up his universe by intervening more often. Like so many other attempts to explain this mystery, this particular scheme helps a little but is not entirely satisfactory. So, I’m stuck back on mystery.

In fact, the real issue is what do I do with mystery?

I understand that my mind and my spirit are finite. Like an angry child, I don’t have the full picture of all things, I just stomp my feet. Am I willing to recognize this at a meaningful level? If I CAN’T actually figure this problem out…or others…on what basis do I believe things? After all, we all actually do believe SOMETHING.

I thought about this for a very long time. And I still do wrestle. But here’s where I’ve landed, at least for now: I’m left depending on the ‘cloud of witnesses’ (Book of Hebrews) who have gone before, who suffered worse, and who still believed in the goodness of God. Facing the mysteries of evil and goodness, I’ve CHOSEN to believe the witnesses of a good God. Further, I find the presence of Love to be more convincing than the presence of Evil. Love wins.

But barely.

I’m still angry when I see pictures like this, and when I remember my grandparents. If that’s weak faith, poor faith, terrible testimony…well so be it. I’ve decided that I’d just rather tell tell the truth than pretend. So here’s my prayer: ‘Lord I believe that you’re good, but help my unbelief.’

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Why Get Out of Bed?

in bedWHY GET UP IN THE MORNING? It seems like time simply gnaws away at our lives one day at a time, leaving us little to show for our efforts, even our best efforts to accomplish good things. Looking at life this way can be frustrating and very discouraging.
A friend of mine and former nun from Scotland wrote a profoundly wise response to this: “Dear David, ultimately the important thing is not what you achieve for God but that you receive God’s love, that you love God, and that you love those around you as well as you know how. This is how you live as a Christian.”
Three awesome reasons to get out of bed!

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