16 10 2012

No one is more aware of my brokeness that me!

My wife is pretty aware . . . but even her knowledge of my sinfulness doesn’t come close to my own knowledge of how often I fall short.  My ‘first-bornness’ has made me extremely conscientious, and my type-A personality continues to push me to over-acheive.  But while such traits have caused me to work hard and accomplish much over the past 51 years, they have also left me keenly aware of my short-comings.  I tend to be harder on myself than anyone else, because I — more than anyone else — know when I’m being lazy, or letting anger get the best of me, or failing to forgive that person who has hurt me.  I — more than anyone else — know when resentment is being given too much room in my soul, or when selfish pride is being allowed to cast too great a shadow on my spirit.

So yes, I know I’m sinful!  My childhood in the Roman Church and my young adult years in the evangelical community have both left their marks on my walk with Christ, and I am well aware that I don’t measure up.

But — and this is a big but! — I’m finally beginning to discover that this is NOT my primary identity.  And it’s not your primary identity either.

Scripture makes it clear that each one of us is a ‘very good’ creation of God — crafted in God’s image, and people who bear the mark of the holy.  Jesus tells us over and over again that we are deeply loved, valued, and treasured, and that the Spirit of Christ abides deep within each one of us.  So no matter how deep and wide our sin may be, it never places any of us outside of the bounds of God’s love, grace, and mercy.

Unfortunately, and tragically, too many in the church today spend way too much time focusing on the sinfulness of humanity.  So,  is it wonder people have such a hard time rising above such low identities?

Quaker author Philip Gulley, in his book “The Evolution of Faith” writes, “When our primary identity is that of sinner, we will invariably descend to that low calling.”  And friends, evidence of this truth abounds in our world and in our churches today.  John Dominic Crossan takes up a similar theme in many of his writings, all of which reveal how Original Blessing always trumps Original Sin — and the church would do well to catch up with such ideas.   Gulley asks “is it too scandalous to believe that a spirit of optimism might well leads us not only toward a fuller humanity, but toward a fuller divinity, when we need look no further than within to see the face of God.?”

My answer is Yes!  Such teaching IS scandalous in the church today.  But that doesn’t make such teaching any less true, or any less important.  And it’s time for the church to speak up and make humanity’s primary identity known.  Yes, we are all broken and cracked vessels.  But friends, always, through those cracks, shines the light and love of God.  And when that happens, the cracks can’t be seen.  All that is visible is the light and love of the Holy.

So I challenge us all to live this day in that knowledge — realizing that each one of us is a child of the Divine, a bearer of the Christ to the world, and one in and through whom the Spirit of God does great things.

My wife and I have been doing yoga for almost two years now, and each class ends with the Spirit of God in me, ‘greeting and saluting” the Spirit of God in everyone else.  And I love concluding things in that manner.  It’s a way of saying that this time we’ve spent together has reminded me not just of God’s presence in me, but of God’s presence in you as well.  It’s a way of reminding myself and everyone else, that above all, each one of us is a beloved child of God — broken but not lost, a sinner but still a saint, broken and cracked . . . but still radiating the love of the Creator.

Ah, that we might all live this way. . . each and every day . . . in the Spirit of Namaste.

May it so be . . . amen!