Tag Archives: evangelicals

Response to Reader (New Age)

Delta asks:

I brought up the subject of Lectio Divina to my friend, thinking that we could use it together. Once a week we meet as prayer partners, and I thought this practice could be a really neat way to begin our time together. When I mentioned it, she hesitated and said it sounded like “New Age” stuff to her, not Christian, and it wasn’t in the Bible. She seemed really reluctant to give it a chance. What should I say to her, or should I let it go?

Lisa’s response:

The name “Lectio Divina” might do some of the scaring for your friend, but really the “Our Daily Bread” devotional is set up quite similarly to the basic movements of L.D. read, meditate, pray, rest/listen (or dwell/abide/apply) If it was just called “Reading with focused prayer”, maybe no one would care. The tradition of L. D. goes back to very early church times when the first manuscripts of scripture were made available, and Christians could read them out loud and ponder them, pray on them to God, and rest in God.

The nice fit for Evangelicals, for instance, as the major focus is on the Scripture, which Evangelicals LOVE. It puts the Bible in prominence for prayer, worship, and hearing from God. Meditation is Christian (of Yahweh). Personally, as someone in the Christian tradition, I refuse to let other religious/or spiritual sects rob me of what God has given us to grow, and adore and worship him. I think we are cheated to section off practices, used by other groups for other purposes, when they are there to use for our own loving of God. He is the object of our praise. He is our glory. The Christian tradition is rich with meaningful spiritual practices that may be less than cut and dry, or formulaic, but it doesn’t mean God hasn’t and doesn’t use them powerfully to change us into his likeness. The unfamiliar here is only unfamiliar to some, in our current culture and time. 

To be clear, I don’t submit that L.D. and contemplative ways, are a WAY to God, only one of many tools, or vehicles, available to ready our hearts for His good work.

The Contemplative part (movement 4) may be the hardest to understand for your friend, (i.e. most unfamiliar) because it’s more common in the Catholic tradition. Again, some like to think, and reason all spiritual actions out, and figure out the formula of it all. If it’s just being, and resting, enjoying God and listening…how can it be “working”? Where’s the doing part? What good could it REALLY be? So, I like to explain it as resting, and yielding to God. We learn our place. He is God, we are not. We are dependent on Him. We don’t have to *do*. That is the whole point. When we complete this discipline this way, the reorientation can be quite beneficial.

Should you bring it up again? Probably not if it’s a big stumbling block for her. I suggest you enjoy God privately with this enriching practice, and if you would really like to engage L. D. with another, send them here to learn about it, (do a search here for more on the topic) or explain it in terms that they might be more comfortable with, such as “Scripture Reading and Focused Prayer.” May God Bless you as you strive to walk closer to him.

Lost or Missing? (An Open Letter to Christians)

 

To you, is he missing or lost?

To you, is he missing or lost?

Dear Christians,

 

When was the last time you made a stupid mistake, or took a wrong turn?

Did anyone ask if you were lost?

If someone asks, “Are you lost?” It can feel like a pointed remark. It emphasizes what is wrong, not what could be right. Most don’t enjoy feeling lost, being called lost, or being accused of being disoriented, and confused. Do you?

It’s often best to take the references to “being lost” in Biblical stories in their typical context of searching and finding something dear and misplaced. (Think: 1 lost sheep of the 100, the lost and valuable coin, etc.) What is lost is not something denigrated, but something worthy/lovable and missing from home. It is not speaking of a foreign thing, or scrappy thing.

Often Christians talk of “The Lost” (the sinner) though not in the context of finding them, but of fixing them. It doesn’t only strike me as rather rude, but it strikes most people this way. Since it’s typical “church speak,” most Christians are totally immune to its unloving sound.

The fact is we all feel a bit lost sometimes. We all feel lonely or afraid at points. It is when we can awaken to the Reality of God’s consistent love and power, and especially when we experience it from others, that we may see huge transformations for the better. Even then, we will still have our ups and downs, but the chance to have joy (sturdy happiness) and then, when a fuller, more abundant life is accessible. This is truly a gift of grace, (not merit).

As children of God, God’s love can show through us, like the father in the story of the Prodigal son, who exclaimed when his son came home, “He was lost, but is now found!” Did he want to fix him? Did he want to teach him a lesson? Hit him? Did he want to get him tested for HIV, ground him, give him a tongue lashing, or tell him what was right and wrong? Um. nope. The son knew already. Most missing people know right and wrong all too well, also. Many think they won’t be welcomed “home,” or think of the community of Christians as “home.” So, they can think, why should they bother trying? Ironical, isn’t it? Hospitality and hospital come from the same root word, and this manner of comfort just must be there to truly show God’s love.

What is a “missing one”? This one is not a person who is less than. It it not one to whom another human should “straighten out,” and save to the narrow path. People aren’t that powerful, and shouldn’t think they are. It’s just tacky. Most of it involves, standing true, and getting out of the way so grace can work its amazing-ness. God doesn’t need us to hold his hand. He asks us for our loyalty, but not just in our love to him-it is in our love to others from the perspective in which he sees them also.

How do you see it?

photo credit Creative Commons Andy Piper