This past Sunday we continued our year-long exploration into relationships. This month we continue to explore the concept that all of our life is sacred and in an ongoing process of development. This week we looked at the "containers and content" of our lives. "Containers" can also be viewed as the framework on which we build our lives and relationship with God and others. For the vast majority of us during the first part of our lives. We construct a framework that we think will give us security, affection, pleasure, and control. Though we may be a "Christian," we remain the central figure, the architect and builder of our framework (even if we aren't consciously aware of it). Our thinking about God (our theology) is often rigid and based on "tit-for-tat" thinking that is often unfortunately promoted by the church. It plays out like this: we think if we are a "good Christian," follow the rules, and behave in approved of ways, God will "bless us." We reason that we do our part and so God should do His and our life will be what we envisioned, or in the very least, not fraught with pain and hardship. Unfortunately, we never really measure up to these rigid standards and life is rarely what we envision.
Eventually, either through the normal aging process, deep heartache/loss, or a profound experience of Love, we come to see that the framework we have been building is unable to give us what we want. We then are left feeling lost, confused, fed up and a host of other negative emotions. We eventually come to realize that the framework we have been building is what Jesus describes in Matt 23:27, "whitewashed on the outside but full of dead men's bones on the inside." We may have a beautiful container/framework but its content leaves us feeling hollow and empty on the inside.
The beauty of God is that at any moment we have a choice. We can either choose to continue to build on our old framework or we can admit that perhaps we have been building on our own and ask God for help. Jesus invites us to leave our old framework/containers behind. In Mark 2 Jesus is seen healing on the Sabbath, calling "sinners" to follow Him, not following strict fasting laws, and talking about putting new wine into new wine-skins. Essentially, He is inviting us to let go of our old framework of rigid "tit-for-tat" religion (theology), embrace grace, and as he said to Levi the tax collector, "follow Me." This following is a life long journey of discovery of what it means to be a beloved human child of God- his beloved child, wrapped in grace. As a friend of mine would say of this new way of life, we find ourselves, "all tucked into" the very being of God. From this framework of love and grace, God can begin to build with us a new framework that not only satisfies our souls but also the thirsts of the world around us.
Reflect this week:
“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall” (Thomas Merton). What wall is my ladder leaning against?
By Babs May-Clark