Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.
The Introduction to a Devout Life by St Francis de Sales has been my evening and morning reading for a month or so. I’d read more if I could afford a print copy… I’m living off of the internet version just now. This morning I came across this passage in Chapter 9 of the first part:
God has given you existence from this nothingness. He has made you what you are, without having need of you and only because of his goodness.
As I was chewing on that, I had one of those rare moments where I can see other people… and realized it was true of them as well: that God drew each person out of nothingness because of his goodness. Set that as a spiritual practice, I dare you: to know everyone you see as drawn by God out of nothingness because of his goodness.
There are a few other such passages in the writings of Christian history – or else often quoted by Christians. Things about “image and likeness” and “teach me to treat all who shall come to me today”. There’s also Philo of Alexandria’s “Be kind, everyone you meet is struggling.” Yeah, I get it. For some reason, though, this one passage, when turned around from a me-center to a you-center was stunning.
Because of your will, they came to be and were created.
There’s been a lot of talk about “reconciliation” lately. It usually comes from political “winners” and gets directed at the “losers”. We have to all come together to be Americans together. And we have to “work together” to make things better. I’m here to call horse hockey.
Some of my friends are seriously angry: they feel threatened, they are worried about the world coming into being, as for themselves and for their children. They have no idea what this election means for posterity, but they are not willing to take a chance on anything that means a loss of freedom to be whomever they have come to know and to imagine themselves to be. They see their actions as their only hope.
Some others of my friends are seriously angry: they feel threatened, they are worried about the world coming into being, as for themselves and for their children. They have no idea what this election means for posterity, but they are not willing to take a chance on anything that means a loss of freedom to be whomever they have come to know and to imagine themselves to be. They see their actions as their only hope.
Both parties are full of it.
In addition to my friends out there, there are others out there who are decidedly not my friends. Some have more angry and fearful attitudes. Some spraypaint graffiti, some firebomb, some destroy, some provoke. Some hate people who are the wrong color. Some hate people who are the wrong religion. Some hate people who are any religion. Some sound like everyone’s favourite dictator and evil guy from the early part of the last century. Some sound like everyone’s favourite dictator and evil guy from the middle of the last century. A few sound like a bad cardboard cutout of a dictator from a 70s Bond movie and a few sound like a bad cardboard cutout of a demon from a 70s Chick tract.
Here’s where I #confessyourunpopularopinion
We must each give all that crap about “my freedom to be” or we will never together know justice, peace, wholeness, or liberty. Unless you stop demanding “rights” you won’t have any love to give away. And without seeing the true person beyond their politics, and realizing that God has given them existence from nothingness only because of his goodness, there is nothing at all we will ever get accomplished.
It’s much easier to demonize the other than it is to love another person. And trust me: when you demonize, the only winner is the demons. They love nothing so much as to see us confuse mere human response with demonic action. Where we’re at each other’s throats they laugh the best and loudest.
I’m here to reconcile: and the only hope of that reconciliation is Jesus and I don’t care who you voted for or didn’t. I don’t care if you want to murder children in the womb before they ruin your modern life or murder them in the streets of their homelands before they get here and steal your stuff. I don’t care if you want to destroy the environment to save some jobs or wreck people’s jobs to save a few fur babies. We got one hope.
Jesus is it.
That person over there was drawn out of nothing by the profound goodness of God for your salvation. You will not be saved without him. That other person? You will not know God without her presence in your life. You will stand alone before the final Judge yet his prayers there and her prayers over there are the only hope you have. As your prayers are their only hope, too.
The only sinner in the Christian worldview uses the first-person pronoun. The only rights in the Christian worldview are in the second or third person. Christianity is one of those irregular nouns: I am a sinner, you are Christ, we are the Church, they are our neighbors.
So when you hear me talking about Reconciliation, please don’t hear “Let’s all come together under the flag/president/my favourite political cause.” What I mean is “Repent, get ready, the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
No Jesus. No peace.