Aug 18, 2007

Putting the Pieces Together

“Agree with God and be at peace.” - Here’s the expanded version: “Agree with God and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty and humble yourself… and if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him and he will hear you” (Job 22:21-27).

"One can't help thinking how their lives might have been, might be different if someone was able to pay more attention, to give more time. The fact of God's love for every human being has to be made real and particular by some other specific human being. The people who drift in and out of our world with apparently no anchor are reminders of the great value there is in loving attention to another human being." — Don Talafous OSB

Here then are the two facets of the Christian life: love of God and love of man. St. Benedict of Nursia (Italy) had much to say about this. We must be at peace with God and then we will be at peace with men – reaching out to them in love and mercy and compassion. Don’t get the order mixed up.

First, realize that “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves” (Job 11:6). He has already shown us unimaginable mercy in sending his Son, Jesus Christ. This, should cause us to seek him and fall at his feet in gratitude and willingness to serve in any way he asks.

Second, once we realize what God has done for us and his desire to restore us to the original state of his creation before the fall in the garden of Eden, we should be assured of his eternal, never-ending love for us. He only desires good for us. “Good” does not mean fulfilling our every selfish desire. As a parent, you know that that cannot be. A child must be trained and disciplined and encouraged to grow in a certain path. Lessons must be taught, wisdom passed on, and instruction in righteousness. These are all “good”. God is not our personal genie. If you truly want to experience life and peace, you must seek after him and follow his lead.

Third, having come to this point of acceptance and desire for God’s centrality in our life, we are then motivated to reach out to those who don’t know where to find “bread”, those who are hungry, thirsty, hurting, and in pain. The gift of life is not something to be hoarded and kept to ourselves to enjoy. It must be shared. It was intended to be shared. You are not the only creature on the planet whom God wants to restore to the original creation. His heart aches for all of mankind. We cannot hide this gift, this treasure, this pearl of great price. But this goes beyond merely preaching the gospel, sharing the four laws, or handing out a tract. It involves touching, hugging, clothing, feeding and listening to those who are unlovely, irritating and difficult to be around. Look at the weird group of people Jesus walked and talked with!

These instructions are so hard to put into practice. My tendency has always been to see my spiritual life as something for my personal restoration and strengthening. It is, but in the kingdom of God, it is also the source of bestowing blessing on others. A marvelous reminder of this truth is the cross itself. The vertical piece is erected first and the horizontal piece placed upon it. Our relationship with God must come first and foremost before we can hope to reach out to others in true love and compassion.

1 comment:

shortcake said...

How very true - "Don't get the order mixed up." Though I think we so often believe that we are "at peace with God" when in fact we are not. Simply feeling that God's wrath is not upon us doesn't qualify as being at peace. We would all do well to seek being at peace.