“Immortal Diamond,” Take ONE!


1_truth “We would rather be ruined than changed.  We would rather die in our dread than climb
the cross of the present and let our illusions die.”
  W.H. Auden

Warning – Steep and Deep Waters ahead – only for
the courageous

Richard
Rohr’s last published book, Immortal Diamond, has been formative in my
heart and life over the past weeks.  As
many of you know, I spent much of the Lenten season in 2013 reading and
re-reading Rohr’s work.  Over the coming weeks,
some of my posts will be reflections on some of the things that made a
difference in my life!  I pray you are
blessed and encouraged. 

Sometimes our ideas on “who’s in and who’s out” of
a journey with Jesus overwhelms the Mystery of who God is and how He reveals
Himself in our lives.  We are so
determined to be theologically or “religiously” right that we are apt to
compartmentalize, exclude and even condemn others because they look, sound or
worship differently.  In reality, as Rohr
comments in the preface of Immortal Diamond,

“…Many
Christians…are forever deepening their personal relationship with a very tiny
American Jesus – who looks an awful lot like them.”

What’s Rohr getting at?  He’s saying what many of us are waking up
to…that we have created God in our image, with OUR theological prejudices, with
OUR observations of duality (who’s in or out, right or wrong), FOR OUR BENEFIT
at the expense of the truth.  And, in
light of that reality, we have reasoned and justified our excuses for NOT
taking the Kingdom of God OR Kingdom ministry/lifestyle seriously.  Many of us have grown too comfortable in our
tiny houses of worship, feeling pretty self-satisfied and fairly self righteous
while the rest of our community and our relationships can be written off
because they do not agree with “me” (or “us”).

Does that sound like a harsh assessment?  Well, it depends…it depends how much patience
a person has for what should be or become that which propels our lives, informs
our actions, and motivates our intentions no matter what we do – the overwhelming
and ALWAYS life-changing and compelling love of God.  The Immortal Diamond is NOT an easy
book to read at times.  For me, it is
always a challenge to open my mind and heart to that which I seriously never
desire to entertain – that being, NEW thoughts and perspectives.  It appears that I’m interested in the
Spirit’s voice as long as that voice sounds more like my own affirming my
preconceived notions and actions. 
Frankly, anything of God that messes up my life is suspicious, though I
must admit, necessary.  I say I welcome
the winds of the Spirit…I say I invite the Lord to blow freshness into my
heart.  I say that I desire to be that
“new wineskin” filled with fresh “wine” (see Matthew 9:17ff)…but in reality,
the comfortable and the unchallenged in me is simply too resistant to the
novelty of God. 

Rohr writes, and this is just in the PREFACE, 

“Something
within them (sic) needs to be deeply trusted and many things must be allowed to
die – not because they are bad but because they perhaps cannot get them where
they want to go.  Spirituality tends to
be more about UNLEARNING than learning….many religious people seem to think
that God, for some utterly unexplainable reason, loves the human past (usually
their own group’s recent past) instead of the present or future of this
creation.  As Jaroslav Pelikan so wisely
put years ago, ‘Tradition is the living faith of the dead.  Traditionalism is the dead faith of the
living, and I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives Tradition
such a bad name.”   

I’m not too comfortable with this but I’m so
thankful that I'm reading it, asking the Spirit to reveals the truth in the
midst of it and allowing that truth to transform my life and heart.  Rohr’s right – our preoccupation with our own
pasts always seems to be at the expense of something.  In this case, we affirm our past and, along
with that, affirm a misleading suspicion that God does only likes “us” and not
“those other” people.  In other words, to
use Rohr’s words,

“This preoccupation
with the past comes across as a divine approval of everybody else’s death (non-Christians,
heretics, “sinners”, etc., etc.) and NEVER OUR OWN (italics mine).” 

All I can say is “ouch.”  You see, HOW WE SEE our lives, our spiritual
journey and interaction/connection to the world says EVERYTHING about what we
believe about WHO GOD IS.  If we see
ourselves especially blessed, then that is at the expense of somebody else
missing the boat.  In other words, if God
is FOR US, He is definitely against THEM. 
In that case, we become self-justified in ignoring that which is outside
of our feeling or sense of rightness. 
And truly friends, that’s why many faith communities and many Jesus
followers are stuck.  Week after week,
they make their way to worship experiences and then completely DETACH from
reality the rest of the week because God is ONLY on their side…why bother with
all the rest of those folks. 

Unfortunately, and I’ll close this devotional here
(I think you’ve probably had enough for today), when we come to these conclusions
we do so at the ignorance of the power and all-encompassing nature of God’s
grace.  The Immoral Diamond says this,

Grace is
what God does to keep all things He has made in love and alive – forever.  Grace is God’s official job description.  Grace is not something God gives; grace is
who God is…an unexplainable goodness is at work in the universe.”

It is God’s grace that propels us into action…into
joining God’s mission…we don’t do or live mission because we have nothing
better to do or because we want more butts in pews, we do it because we are
joining God and recognizing that grace is available and already “moving” in
every person’s life.   Knowing and
experiencing grace is really at the heart of what it means to be a Christ
follower.  It is God’s grace that
transforms.  Without it, our religious
experience is just a social club or a doctrinal system.  What radically changes our lives and our
motivations for joining God in mission is grace…pure and simple! 

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