“Jesus himself taught and exemplified the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that. Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what traps us and keeps us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is usually considered better. True liberation is letting go of our small self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right—which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem. Francis sought freedom in all three parts of life. My good friend Fr. John Dear puts it very well: ‘Francis embodies the Gospel journey from violence to non-violence, wealth to poverty, power to powerlessness, selfishness to selfless service, pride to humility, indifference to love, cruelty to compassion, vengeance to forgiveness, revenge to reconciliation, war to peace, killing enemies to loving enemies. More than any other Christian, he epitomizes discipleship to Jesus. . . .'” Richard Rohr
“the truth will set you free”
Jesus in John 8:32
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- We often think of spiritual formation as mostly an “adding on” of virtues–for instance patience or love. Have you even thought of approaching spiritual formation by subtracting behaviors–like hurry–a practice that prevents love and contradicts patience?
- To say “we have no training” in this is an understatement. Everything in our society teaches us the opposite. Are you seeking out other voices to teach you these kinds of truths and reinforce them in your heart and mind?
- What can you do to more effectively “epitomize discipleship to Jesus?”
Abba, help me to join Jesus and Francis on the path of descent.
For More: You Will Be My Witnesses by John Dear
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! – Bill
“To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division. Jesus says it clearly: ‘Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; … do not condemn; … forgive’ (Luke 6:36-37). In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.” Henri Nouwen
“Those of my university students who have grown up outside of the church (about half of them) have a very negative stereotypical view of Christianity. When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity, they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted.” Marcus Borg
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.
If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- How often do you judge, condemn, evaluate, classify or label someone? …even someone you don’t really know?
- When you catch yourself, do you beat yourself up? Can you just stop? Can you take another look and practice compassion–or attempt some understanding?
- Can you make up your mind once and for all to see others as God does–with compassion, forgiveness and grace? …to see them as bearing God’s image? …as someone God loves? …as someone God is for? …as a confused person in need of a Savior? …as a broken person in need of a friend? …as someone like you?
- Do you ever look at people (like while waiting in the doctor’s office) and just let your heart go out to them in love? Try it!
Abba, remind me daily that I’ve made up my mind to look upon others only with love. May your love for me spill over to others.
For More: Bread for the Journey by Henry Nouwen
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he 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.”