Especially in the church, there is a tendency to elevate perseverance to the level of saintliness. Giving up in the face of hardship is considered akin to blasphemy, because, after all, Look at the example of Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Or look to Paul, who endured extensive amounts of torture and imprisonment to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to far off lands. What are our mere troubles when compared to the hardships endured by those two?
“You have made us for yourself, oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
I was restless.
Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, the one who carries the double-edged sword that kills or gives life, asks a monk to bring him something out in the world that is not medicine. The monk searches far and wide, and finally returns, saying that there is nothing out there that is not medicine. To which the master says, “then bring me something that is medicine.” The monk then reaches down and plucks a blade of grass.
The master turns to the monk and says, “This medicine can kill people and it can also bring them to life.”
When I was a pastor for a small church up in the pacific northwest, I received a phone call one day. The call came from another pastor in our diocese, who wanted to let me know that he had a “word of knowledge” for me.
For those of you not particularly versed in the charismatic / pentecostal nomenclature, a “word of knowledge” is a personal prophecy, or discernment, regarding what God is doing in the life of another person. These can at times be very powerful, when truly directed by God. When not directed by God, they tend to take on the likeness of a battering ram.
Years ago, on a diocesan retreat, two men were arguing about a particular prophecy concerning where the new diocesan cathedral would stand. We were all sharing a cabin bunkhouse, and I was trying to get some sleep. The two could not, or would not, agree on any of the supposed signs that they had interpreted to indicate the location of the new building, and after a while, I got grumpy enough that I just flat out asked them why they were arguing.
People love to hear sermons about how God loves them. People love to hear sermons about how those who love God are blessed. People love to hear about how God’s love covers over their multitude of sins. People love hearing sermons about love as long as that love relates to them. But people hate to hear sermons that demand that they follow through on loving their neighbor, because others can just be so difficult to love sometimes.
“Didn’t we play stickball with him?” “Didn’t he once pull the tail of a donkey an make it bray so loudly at 3am that all the neighbors woke up?” “Didn’t he used to catch frogs down by the river and scare the girls with them?”
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
The trouble with this viewpoint is that it seeks to benefit from faith without putting any work into it. It looks for safety, it looks for rescue and the salvation from eternal damnation, rather than a relationship with God. It is purely practical.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7 – KJV The other day I wasRead More…
Daily Office Readings – New Testament ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ) Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfitRead More…