Friday, March 16, 2012

What healing is...

Soul knowledge sends you in the opposite direction from consumerism. It’s not addition that makes one holy, but subtraction: stripping the illusions, letting go of the pretence, exposing the false self, breaking open the heart and the understanding, not taking one’s private self too seriously. Conversion is more about unlearning than learning.

In a certain sense we are on the utterly wrong track. We are climbing while Jesus is descending, and in that we reflect the pride and the arrogance of Western civilization, always trying to accomplish, perform, and achieve. We transferred much of that to our version of Christianity and made the Gospel into spiritual consumerism. The ego is still in charge. There is not much room left for God when the false self takes itself and its private self-development that seriously.

All we can really do is get ourselves out of the way, and honestly we can’t even do that. It is done to us through this terrible thing called suffering...

Real holiness doesn’t feel like holiness; it just feels like you’re dying. It feels like you’re losing it...

Richard Rohr, adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations

Suffering is, as Rohr rightly says, a terrible thing. We must never allow ourselves piously to minimise either the suffering of our fellow-humans, or to minimise the suffering of Christ, by somehow sentimentalising the Cross. Yet it is only through pain that certain things can happen in the human heart. I have no idea whether this is due to our fallenness: I suspect it may, but fallen as I am there is nothing with which I can compare it.

A verse I keep returning to over and over again in Romans 8.28: “...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) So often we read this as implying that good will make everything turn out all right; yet we know from the lives of the saints and martyrs (another good reason for studying them!) that this is not necessarily so. No, the good God has in mind is far deeper than “making it all better”. He means to make us holy, and that is a terrible thing in itself. What makes it worse is that the further one allows oneself to be led along this path, the more one refuses anaesthetise the pain with the things of the world, the longer one realises the journey ahead to be...

Healing may sometimes involve putting right what seems to be wrong - mending the broken marriage, curing the disease, ending the loneliness - but that is not what healing is. That kind of healing may last a few years. It may even last a lifetime. God's healing is meant to last forever: it has little to do with what happens to this perishable body, and everything to do with eternity (1 Corinthians 15.45-55)...

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