“The word ‘repentance’ turns the door into the narrow gate, the most despised, and yet the most important word of our time. It is a time when no one wants to repent, and yet is is precisely in this unwillingness to repent that we find the secret to the misery of our time. Because ours is a time that cannot tolerate this word, the most vital thing linking people to each other lies broken and shattered: the ability of a person to give another his rights, the ability to admit one’s own error and one’s own guilt; the ability to find the guilt in himself rather than in the other, to be gentle with the other but strict with oneself. …Who cannot admit his guilt before God can no longer do so before men. Then begins the insanity, the insanity of persecution that must make the other person into the devil himself in order to make himself into a god. Where repentance stops, inhumanity begins…. Repentance wipes away everything we think important, it sweeps away ruthlessly our interests and considerations, and it dries up everything that we hoped to mention in our favor. This contradiction is not without reason; whoever repents denies his own life, whoever allowed himself to be baptized here in the Jordan by John, said in effect: I am a man or a woman who must be drowned. Here all noteworthy conduct is for naught: ‘My wounds stink for my sins reach above my head; like a heavy burden they have become too much for me’ (Ps. 38:6,7,5). Repentance is the terrible discovery that I live under a death sentence, and even worse, that I must say yes to this condemnation to death. I am convicted not only outwardly by the sentence itself but inwardly by my own guilt. This is what happens with repentance: my life is annihilated and destroyed not only outwardly but also inwardly. All my defensive weapons–both those pointing externally toward others and those pointing inwardly toward myself–have been lost.” Helmut Gollwitzer
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Jesus in Matthew 3:8
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you convinced of your need for repentance as a way of life?
- Has admitting the need for repentance made you easier on others? …on yourself?
- This is holocaust-era preaching. Serious. Today seems less so, right? What about that?
Abba, let me be serious about repentance.
For More: Preaching in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud (ed.)
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill
“Blessed is that servant who does not think himself better when he is praised and exalted by men, than when he is despised and considered simple and good-for-nothing, for what a man is in the sight of God, this he is and no more.” Francis of Assisi
Krista Tippett recently interviewed Richard Rohr: “So recently, I took a break. I got some rest that I needed badly, and I was staying at a retreat center, and …it was a meditation session I went to. And the person who was leading it read a passage from your book, Falling Upward and read the line— … ‘I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it,’ which sounds so uncomfortable. There’s nothing in me that wants to pray for one good humiliation a day.”
No, and there isn’t in me either. I just said that to that group of millennials two weeks ago. Some years ago, I started recognizing that I was getting an awful lot of adulation and praise and some people treating me far more importantly than I deserved. And I realized I was growing used to it, that the ego just loves all of this admiration and projection. And a lot of it was projection. And I didn’t want fame and well-knownness and guru status to totally destroy me, and so for me, this became a necessity, that I had to watch how do I react to not getting my way, to people not agreeing with me, to people not admiring me—and there’s plenty of them—and that I actually needed that. And so I do, I still, I ask God for one good humiliation a day, and I usually get it, one hate letter or whatever it might be. [laughs] And then what I have to do, Krista, is I have to watch my reaction to it. And I’ve got to be honest with you, my inner reaction—I’m not proud to tell you—is defensive, is, ‘That’s not true. You don’t understand me.’ I can just see how well-defended my ego is. And of course, even your critics—and I have plenty of them—at least 10 to 20 percent of what they’re saying is usually true.” Richard Rohr
“What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
for their ancestors also praised false prophets.”
Jesus in Luke 6:26
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you ever seen humiliation as something positive?
- The next time you’re humiliated, “watch your reaction” as if from outside yourself. What do you learn?
- Are you as defended against praise as you are against criticism?
Abba, undefend me.
For More: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
Thank you for sharing/following my blog! – Bill
“Writing Searching for Sunday forced me to consider that perhaps real maturity is exhibited not in thinking myself above other Christians and organized religion, but in humbly recognizing the reality that I can’t escape my own cultural situatedness and life experiences, nor do I want to escape the good gift of my (dysfunctional, beautiful, necessary) faith community. This consideration made the writing process infinitely more difficult and infinitely more rewarding. I suspect it is having the same effect on my faith. The truth is, I am a Christian, which means I am religious. And I am an American, which means my Christianity is profoundly affected by privilege, by Western philosophy, by 17th century Puritanism, and by Psalty the Singing Songbook. My American Christian heritage includes both Martin Luther King Jr. and the white segregationists who opposed him–a reality that is both empowering and uncomfortable, but one I can’t escape, one I want to look squarely in the eyes. Loving the Church means both critiquing it and celebrating it. We don’t have to choose between those two things. But we cannot imagine ourselves to be so far above the Church that we are not a part of it. Like it or not, those of us who continue to follow Jesus will have to do so with our adopted siblings by our side. Yes, we are called to grow and mature, and yes, our convictions and denominational affiliations will likely change, but I’ve found I’m a better writer—and a better person—when I’m more focused on outgrowing the old me than I am on outgrowing other people in my community. After all, this is Kingdom growth. There aren’t ladders, only trellises.” Rachel Held Evans
“I will build my church,
and all the powers of hell
will not conquer it.”
Jesus, Matthew 16:18
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you decided you must either only celebrate or critique the church?
- “Those of us who continue to follow Jesus will have to do so with our adopted siblings by our side.” Hasn’t this always been the hard but inescapable reality about the church? It’s often hard to bear with others–but then remember that old joke: “If you find a perfect church, don’t go there. You’ll only ruin it!” Are you trying to escape inescapable reality?
- Are you focused more on “outgrowing the old you” than you are on “outgrowing other people in your community?” If not, why not?
Loving Lord who loves us, teach us to love one another.
For More: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I truly appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; …to love all men as myself; to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry; to have a will that is always ready to fold back within itself and draw all the powers of the soul down from the deepest center to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God, poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point of my dependence on Him; to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly suffer or do or be, and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect love and blind faith and pure trust in God, to do His will.” Thomas Merton
“So like a fish going towards the sea, we [monks] must hurry to reach our cell*
for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.”
Anthony the Great
“Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Abbot Pastor
“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses
*an ancient term for a quiet, private place to be with God
“But when you pray,
go into your room [and]
close the door”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:6
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- What two or three aspirations in Merton’s words resonate most with you? Can you form a prayer around them?
- The dessert fathers had a plan for escaping the grip of illusion, confusion and judgment, and for cultivating liberty, peace and “silent expectancy for the coming of God.” Do you have such a plan?
Abba, help me to abandon myself to you in the resignation of a perfect love.
For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”