Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why I am a Christian #2: In my journey in the Christian Faith I have encountered a love that is much bigger than my own heart. An ocean of love. What I now know as the true source of all real love. It is a love that embraces all people everywhere. I first encountered it in my baptism. Later in what some people call the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I learned to access it more frequently through a tradition in the Orthodox Church called "The Jesus Prayer". I found a love that never leaves me and the wisdom to live in it through a little book called "The Practice of the Presence of God" by brother Lawrence.

Now encounters and even God's love for me and everyone else in no way automatically make me mature enough to love like God loves. But I find I am stretched a little more in that direction every day.

Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer that Christians would enter into and know the love of God. Immaturity at this point is the cause of a lot of people having problems with the church. We teach and show people how much God loves... and then disconnect from it in some way. Still this love sustains me every day in a grace that calls me to love more deeply everyone around me... and in the world at large.

"Love is the only power on earth that can turn an enemy into a friend". Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are links to 3 books that have been useful to me in my journey:
The Practice of the Presence of God
Disciple by Juan Carlos Ortiz
Strength to Love by Martin Luther King

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I am going to start a simple series of posts of "Why I (john tw) am a Christian". I am not aiming for the popular apologetics that is aimed at proving the Christian faith is reasonable and evidence based... I believe others have done that better than I could do. But rather I want to make explicit some of the gems that I have found in living into my faith that has made my life the good of what it is and has become.

1. I have found that God pursues meeting me in the deepest places of pain in my heart and personal history and then works to transform and give meaning to that suffering. Like the cross of Christ. There is nothing in torture or suffering that we would choose for... Only in God's hands can real evil or suffering be transformed into a life giving force of grace. As the Prophet Isaiah said: "He gives beauty for Ashes, The Oil of Joy for mourning, and a Garment of Praise for a Spirit of Heaviness".

This is my experience of walking the Christian life out. It is only possible to experience this kind of life giving grace if one is truly open and honest enough to face one's personal pain and willing to turn to God for help.
This grace of inner healing and forgiveness is an experience that is shared around the world by Christians and is essential to the future of our communities.  I can not think of a better example of this than what is found in the struggle for healing and justice as expressed in the book -- No Future Without Forgiveness by Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The simplest door into this experience beyond the healthy initiation rite of baptism is found in this little book -- The wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen  .