Saturday, June 13, 2009

If You Will...I Will

Yesterday, I broke all the rules and engaged a study of a chapter out of Adrienne Von Speyr's book The Word Becomes Flesh, Vol 1.  Most people, if doing a review would begin with Chapter 1.  But I began my reflections after reading nearly half the book.  Why?  Because it's taken me nearly six months to get that far.  Partly because I'm always reading other books and partly because Ms. Speyr is so dense in her writing, I need time to reflect on what I've read.  Why now?  I guess I've reached a point where her thoughts have become so profound, I've found it necessary to put my thoughts in print to try and get a more fuller understanding as well as personal application for my daily life.  In a sense I've opened up my thought processes to allow you to look over my shoulder as I wrestle with these concepts.  
Also, I guess I'm a bit sensitive about  some I've read recently who claim that those of us who blog have problems with narcissism and need to get people to pay attention to us.  That may be true, but I can't help feel this new medium is an avenue for many of us to carry on a time honored practice of writing down our beliefs much as countless of nameless men and women have done over the centuries on parchment.  
Having said that, I want to return to my thoughts of yesterday.    

I ended up reflecting on Ms. Speyr's statement 

“A faith that rests only on the calculation of what is seen is not faith.”

Don't we all do this?  I mean, isn't this a part of our nature?  If you perform (Fill in the blank), then I will (Fill in the Blank)
You even see this in animals.  We have adopted, or rather, we have been adopted by a stray cat.  She's a gorgeous little critter, a grey kitty we've called "Smokey".  For nearly a year we have been working to domesticate this furry feline.  We finally captured her one day and took her to the vet to make sure she was healthy.  We hope to integrate her with our two black indoor cats someday.  We don't believe in outdoor cats.  
Anyway, this domestication process is not easy.  She obviously was abandoned and so has gone semi-feral, if that is a word.  It's a major process to gain her trust.  But, she's finally to the point where she welcomes our lap and will spend hours purring and sleeping on our warm laps.  But, we have a few scars from learning her limits.  Her tummy is definitely off limits.  Rubbing her tummy can guarantee a painful bite.  
So how did we gain this much progress?  You've probably guessed it.  Food!  
Like all animals, food is the great leveler.  We began to feed her.  And slowly over time, she allowed us to get closer until we could touch her, then pet her carefully and now, finally to become a very loving cat who cherishes our lap.  Or might I say, gives us the privilege of her presence on our laps.  
Now what does all this have to do with our subject?  Simple.  Her measuring stick was, "If you feed me, I'll grace you with my presence."  
Don't we play the same game?  If you provide my desire for contemporary music at church then I'll be able to worship.  Or most likely for us traditionalists, I can only worship if the music is traditional.  Or, I'll come to your church, if the pastor is an expository preacher, or a topical preacher, or if he's charismatic or..or...or...
Do you see what we do?  We set up measuring sticks, just like our little Smokey.  Our faith, our worship, our devotion to each other is contingent on whether or not our personal tastes are met by another.  
But here in this verse Ms. Speyr is saying, Jesus doesn't bite.  He doesn't play this game.
Faith is not dependent upon a measuring stick.  
Faith is a gift of Love from the Lover and our participation of  exercising this gift is an equal response of love that is a choice we make regardless of the outcome.  Faith doesn't require proof.  It simply is a response.  
Well, I've milked this more than I'd planned so will continue another time.  I want to expand on the implications Ms. Speyr draws from this truth.  So until then...maybe six months from now??? soon as I can digest the pages of the book.

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