Friday, 28 September 2012
There are many ways to fail when trying to walk the Christian path. I am of course speaking from my own struggles, failures and experiences with my own thick bullheadedness, when trying to deepen my own walk with Christ Jesus. I also understand that when we share our lives with one another, there are limitations of language, as well as the life experiences of those who listen. It makes communication very difficult to say the least and often frustrating.
There are no straw men in this world, though they are often created when talking about ‘others’, or when those ‘others’ talk about me or just Christians in general. Straw men are often constructed from the failures of any said group. I have been made into a straw man more times than I can count and have also been guilty of the same thing when dealing with those who think and believe differently from me. So yes, I am often judged by the worst of those who call themselves Christians, and yes I can be at times a member of that club, showing bad example. I can be a Pharisee along with the best of them. I am a sinner, I fail, but I can get up and start anew.
Scripture can at times be used not as a sword that pierces the heart, mind and soul, leading to conversion and a deeper love of God and man, but as a club used in a manner that is often violent, cruel and unloving in the extreme. Quotes often become the Word of God and Jesus and his example and love are forgotten and buried.
One of the good things about failing is that it brings to mind the inner struggle that every human being is involved in. Each religion -- and I would think the many different philosophies -- seek to deal with this issue of living an authentic human life. Or to put it another way, how do we become more fully human, more loving, compassionate and empathetic.
When religion becomes a shell, empty without any kind of deep inner reflective life, it can be a source of suffering for any who come in contact with such a way of life. When one system becomes aggressive towards another, it starts a cycle of pain and fragmentation in the human community that perhaps is continuing to worsen as mankind ages. We have the ideals, it is the carrying them out that is the question. As a species we tend to gravitate towards extreme tribalism, no matter what group we belong to. Be it religious or secular. Straw men or easier to deal with than the actual human person, complex and each unique in their slant in how they perceives the world and live out there beliefs.
When Christians fail to see Christ Jesus in their neighbors, in their enemies, then breakdown is present. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about how humans relate to one another. He is not talking about governments or some kind of social movement that will or can change the world where it actually needs changing. No, he is speaking about how we relate to on another. It starts at the bottom, between two people, then it spreads to others, a ripple effect, or another word used by Jesus, it expands like the working of yeast, invisible yet there. It is our everyday relationships that can slowly change the world.
However I think that we should be more loving towards others without thinking about its affect on the world. We just need to be more open to grace, God’s love and seek to develop a deep loving relationship with Christ. When we don’t do this, we fail in a big way. This love has to be consciously sought after, prayed for, even in spite of deep resistance in our hearts.
I have deep seated resistance to love others. I have lots of inner conflict, but I have learned that is part of the journey, an aspect of the dying to self that Jesus is calling us all to. Growing into the freedom of the Children of God; which is the freedom to love others more fully and to leave judgments to God…for in reality this is the lifting of a great inner burden. For when we judge, when we try to weigh the heart and soul of another, we fail, we don’t see deep enough. Often we just see ourselves and don’t like what others reflect back to us. The splinter in the eye of another is easier to deal with than the log in our own. Failure is not hypocrisy, hiding it and then demanding that others be perfect, is. If we truly understood ourselves better, I doubt any of us would ever be shocked by what others do….”there but for the grace of God go I”.
It is in our relationship with God that our heart expands. As life moves on and we look back, a pattern is seen, a path of raising and falling, of having trust and a slow moving forward. Making the conscious ascent of the will allowing grace in, even when things are dark and seem hopeless. It is when we make a conscious choice to allow God’s grace and mercy to manifest in our often fragmented and pain filled souls that we begin to see and understand the work of grace, freely given, without merit on our part and we learn to trust ever more deeply. This is what others see, and hopefully what we see in those we come in contact with. We are called to heal those around us, and allow others to minister to us as well.
Things are about we don’t understand,
our world a cell with strict limitation,
our ways often shaded in grays,
and our paths obscure,
our faith the light on our path,
drawing us deeper into love and mystery.
In our prayers and heart
we carry one another,
For Christ Jesus can do all things.
When have you failed as a Christian? What did you learn from your mistakes? What do you hope people will see in you rather than the mistakes you've made?