Words taken from The Dangerous act of loving your neighbor by Mark Labberton. “We”is a set of invisible goggles we never take off, not least because we have no sense we even have them on. We look out on the world with the lenses of our instincts and Social Grooming. we think we see the way others do or even more frequently perhaps the reverse: that others see the way we do…. Saying “we” is like building a kind of perch for ourselves. we functions, then, as a kind of social place from which we see, act, engage or withdraw from them and that. It’s a powerful perch and motivates so much about how we perceive, name and understand ourselves in the world.
“I” yields to “we”variably, on this side of things. “We” is typically valued so long as it is Either inescapable or useful: family, ethnicity, privilege, opportunity, belonging, love, hope, money. When “we”becomes a significant disappointment or distraction or they vision from what “I” want or if “we” becomes a force that feels threatening to “I”, then the loyalty to “we” wanes; things change. easily, readily, a slide occurs as “we”becomes “they”. They as a word involves figuratively sticking out our tongue. It’s a word of expulsion. They is a word that pushes away. It’s not far from Spitting. it draws a boundary, a parameter, a distinction, a separation, a distance. They is a kind of anti-identity, an anti-definition of “I” or “we”. They means disassociating, disconnecting: they are like this……they think this….they feel that…….they are different because……they don’t get it the way we do…
What moments or circumstances expose your distance, fear, rejection, Anger, prejudice, dislike of “They”? Why do these responses seem natural and justified? What experiences or voices in your life has contributed to that?
Words from the book, The dangerous Act of loving thy neighbor.
Where be live shapes how we live. …Life on this side of things definitely has real pain and genuine desperation. One can have all things that life on this side brings with it and still find life difficult. The anguish of our minds and hearts can almost erase the simple pleasures and privileges of this life- enough so that it can seem as if they don’t really matter, in fact. It turns out the person can have unlimited access to food, water and shelter and still feel that life is miserable…….What is most invisible to those who live on this side of things is often far more invisible to those who look at the world from the other side of things….What is mostly apparent to us is all we don’t have, rather than all we might yet have. “More” is always an attractive option. Still we are unimpressed with the suggestion that any of this is power….. We can always find people who have so much more than we do that it always seems we are in the middle to low end of this strenuousness cycle….
Reflection: what would be the biggest difference in your life if you lived on the other side of things? What if hope meant survival, not improvement or alleviation of daily problems? How would your prayers change?
My best takeaway is: my true self is my total self as I am created by God and being redeemed in Christ. It is the image of God that I am the unique face of God that has been set aside for eternity for me. There is no true life apart from relationship to God. Therefore there can be no true self apart from this relationship. The foundation of our identity resides in our life-given relationship with the source of life. Any identity that exist apart from this relationship is an illusion.
Three takeaways: 1. Genuine self knowledge begins by looking at God and noticing how God is looking at us. Grounding our knowing of our self in Gods knowing of us anchors us in reality. It also anchors us and God. 2. Love is our identity and our calling, for we are children of love. Created from love, of love and for love, our existence makes no sense apart from divine love. 3. We must face our feelings of shame. They make us feel too vulnerable. So we pretend they do not exist and hope they go away. We cannot deny our broken and wounded self. These unwanted parts of self do not go away, they simply go into hiding.
Its easy to be dishonest in speaking of knowing God. Our cliché- ridden God-talk is seriously out of touch with our actual experience…..The good news is that God can be known by human beings, personally and experientially….It is personal knowing-knowing that begins with belief but is deep and through relationship….God’s intention is that we know divine love by experiencing it. Transformational knowing of God comes from the intimate, personal knowing of divine love. Knowing God also requires surrender..We must know the truth, we must love the truth we know and we must act accordingly to the measure of our love. Relationships develop when people spend time together. Spending time with God ought to be the essence of prayer. Spending time with Jesus allows us to ground our God-knowing in the concrete events of a concrete life. We can do this by meditation on meeting Jesus in the Gospel‘s and meditating on meeting God in the events of our life.
Words from Chapter 1- Transformational Knowing of Self and God:
Knowing God and knowing about God are two different things. What can you learn about yourself and God that can only arise from your encounter with the divine?
Although Jesus told Peter he would deny him, Peter did not want to believe it. Doubting Jesus was easier than doubting himself. The interweaving of the deepening knowledge of self and God that we have seen in Peter’s experience illustrates the way genuine knowing of God and self occurs. Peter could not truly know Jesus apart from knowing himself in relation to Jesus. He did not know himself until Jesus showed him who he was. But in learning about himself, he also came to truly know Jesus.