Let me begin with a few of my assumptions about the biblical narrative:
- The biblical narrative is an evolution of thought rather than a static rendering of what God is about in all times and in all places.
- Some who were “out” in the early portions of the narrative are “in” by the end of the written story.
- The kingdom of God, in fits and spurts, continues to expand and be open to the new throughout the narrative, not contract and default to the old.
- The end of the scriptural story is not the end of God’s expansive kingdom work. Each generation must ask itself, “How will God be known today, through whom, and whom else can we invite into the vision of this expansive kingdom?”
- One of the consistent themes throughout the scriptures is that the people of God were frequently surprised, dare I say offended, by who was invited to the sacred dance of grace.
I lay these assumptions out for you to give you a sense of why I have given up trying to control God (by deciding for God who is in and out) and, instead, have decided to let God surprise me with the unorthodox and unpredictable ways God can be known and experienced in the world.
I need to tell you how freeing it is to not take out the yardstick of judgment and constantly measure my own motivations or the motivations and/or behaviors of others.
How did I get there? Through painful years of never feeling like I measured up to my parents, my siblings, and a cloud of witnesses that I now call my mentors and peers. Through painful circumstances when my righteous actions caused harm, sometimes irreparable harm, to others in relationship. Through painful introspection where my image of God was challenged, deconstructed, then reconstructed again.
Even through the pain of it all, spiritual growth is an exhilarating journey.
The next step on the journey we are taking together is to ask the question, “How does my image of God affect the way I see the world, others, my own life?”
For those of you who are reflecting on the next layer of questions with a friend or small group, here they are:
- Comparison fatigue is the experience of being overwhelmed by the constant comparisons we make with others. Can you describe specific circumstances when you are more susceptible to the negative effects of comparison? What does that do to your sense of self?
- How would you like others to see God’s presence in you, in your life? If you feel bold enough, ask a friend or family member to share how they see God’s presence in your life.
- What kinds of people do you have the hardest time seeing God’s presence in? How could you learn more about “those people,” whoever those people are for you?
- What would it be like to imagine them through the eyes of God’s grace, just as God sees you?
It’s Monday? Put on the lenses of God’s grace this week. What do you see? Peace. Kai