“The Holy Longing”: Part II (A Few Insights I Loved)

One of the things that I found particularly insightful was “The Essentials of Christian Spirituality-The Four Nonnegotiable Pillars of the Spiritual Life.” Great fulfillment comes from filling all of these functions and it’s because we were designed to do them. “…Jesus prescribed four things as an essential praxis for a healthy spiritual life: a) Private Prayer and private morality; b) social justice; c) mellowness of heart and spirit; and d) community as a constitutive element of true worship.” (Rolheiser, 53) Without the growth and development of all of these elements within my life I would not have the foundation or the relationship with God that I do now. I realize that these four branches were all working together powerfully to both deepen my faith and bear fruit.

The second insightful section I liked was about The Word being made flesh. “God takes on the flesh so that every home becomes a church, every child becomes the Christ-child, and all food and drink becomes a sacrament.” (Rolheiser, 78) I recently began reading the Old Testament and within it you see God sometimes speak in plural. Since the Word became flesh which was Jesus and it says that the Word was with God in the beginning, did Jesus from the start know of His sacrifice? Within the Old Testament I also see the foreshadowing of Christ and his death, even as Abraham tells his son that God will provide the lamb. This section definitely gave me a lot to consider.

The third insight I felt really resonated with me was the reconciliation and forgiveness of sins. “We have our sins forgiven by being in community with each other, at table with each other… we will never go to hell as long as we are touching the community-touching it with sincerity and modicum of contrition.” (Rolheiser, 87-88) I feel like there is greater effectiveness in communal repentance than perhaps going to an individual at a church, although he does speak to the value of that later. My community knows me. They know how to love me, encourage me, challenge me and chastise me. I must make myself be vulnerable and confess, but wanting to change my ways for my community is a big motivation. Their ability to see what is and isn’t effective in modifying my behavior also helps. I see a lot of value in this.

When I consider his book and how we can apply it to leadership, one excerpt I particularly like is from a man who thought his issues weren’t that bad. “As best as I can put it, now that I go regularly to Alcoholics and Sexual Anonymous meetings, is that I see in colors again. Before that, I wasn’t a bad person, but I was always so taken up with my own needs and yearnings that… I wasn’t really seeing what was in front of me.” (Rolheiser, 230) There is value to what God asks us. Of course in this example it is some of the more obvious cases like avoiding drunkenness and sexual immorality. But the guidelines Jesus gives us to follow are fruitful not just for others; they bear fruit for us as well. Additionally, I learn that we might be better leaders if we were more like the Father in Rembrandt’s Father of the Prodigal Son. In that painting, Rembrandt portrayed the Father as blind. “The implication is obvious, God sees with the heart.” (Rolheiser, 240). When I consider the best leaders I know, this is what I see: people with a compassionate heart who teach others instead of mock, who forgive quickly, love fully and give generously. The greatest leaders are the ones who are vulnerable, make themselves accessible and are humble even as they come in to save us. Those are Christ-like qualities and those are also things this book describes excellently.

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Race Issues in America: “Every Life Matters” or “It’s In God’s Hands”

Hashtags can become dangerous things. Some people hear #blacklivesmatter and hear the implication that only black lives matter. That is not the point. They respond with #everylifematters but, often the posts associated with this hastag come across as callous, racist, or entitled. The fact is, this issue is far too complex for a simple hashtag argument that further divides us.

Yes, black lives matter. Every life knitted together by our Creator matters. There is not one person out there who doesn’t matter. Beyond His love for us, God calls us to care for and protect each other. He wants justice.

It is irresponsible at times when socially and politically we are all called to repent from our old ways and begin reconciliation to just say, it’s in God’s hands. No, we are called to be God’s hands and feet. We as Christians and Americans have a responsibility to make sure justice is given to those who are not receiving it in our country. Martin Luther King Jr. said at the Sermon at Temple Israel in Hollywood in 1965, “We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.” King knew action must be taken.

I would say that much like when King marched and practiced other forms of non-violent protest, if people feel that there is systemic racism and discrimination as has been shown in Ferguson, they should express that. Sadly, their frustrations boiled over and violence seems to beget violence, further dividing our nation. I would argue that this violence is the work of the Enemy and not individuals. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Therefore, I believe we are called to make sure freedom and justice are for all our brothers and sisters in this nation, uniformed or not, and that as Christians we should work beside all of them in making sure there is justice for everyone.