The Inchoateness of Being
[T]his slow process of transformation and the realizations that came with it were not either-or decisions; they were great big both-and realizations. None of it happened without much prayer, self-doubt, study and conversation, but the journey itself led me to a deepening sense of what the church calls holiness, what Americans call freedom. Richard Rohr1
Last week, in my post In Deep Time, I wrote about the distinction I have come to between black-and-white thinking (dualistic) and thinking in shades of gray (contemplative). Dualistic thinking assumes I am whole and complete, that I am confident enough in my understanding of the gospel to represent God, therefore I am capable of dividing who is “in” and who is “out.”
Yet I have been told by an apostle of Jesus that He continues to mature me during my entire walk with Him here on earth, and that I will not be complete and whole until He returns. (Philippians 1:6) In all humility, I can say I am an unfinished masterpiece, here simply to do what He has designed me to do long before I was born. (Ephesians 2:10)
Knowing then, that I never have all the answers, that I am imperfect and unfinished in my spiritual development, I must remain alert to learning opportunities from the Spirit. I must remain teachable. I must be open to the continual direction, to the new – and sometimes paradoxical – worldview the Spirit places before me.
Unfortunately, most Christians are not well trained in holding opposites for very long, or living with what could be very creative tension. It is probably necessary to eliminate most doubt when you are young; doing so is a good survival technique. But such worldviews are not true – and they are not wisdom. Wisdom happily lives with mystery, doubt and unknowing. Richard Rohr2
The ability to hold this “creative tension” of ideas has given me an extraordinary gift. Where I once viewed God within the box of religious law, I now see Him as He really is – an all-encompassing, magnificent God who accomplishes monumental things. He does this through those of us willing to be shaped and used by Him who fills us with His unconditional love and generous grace.
Because I am incomplete, I cannot be audacious enough to preach condemnation onto others. I cannot be presumptuous enough to tell anyone I have the right formula to save them. And because He has bestowed His unreserved mercy onto me, I cannot withhold it from anyone. Only God saves, in His powerful, transformative and unique ways.
I may not understand the way God goes about saving you; you may not comprehend the way He will go about saving your son or daughter, or your best friend. The beauty of it is, we don’t need to understand. It is the mystery of the way He works in us.
And don’t forget, even though we can’t see it, or we struggle with it or we doubt it, He’s not just saving us – He’s busy saving the world.
Either Jesus is the “savior of the world” (John 4:42) or he is not much of a savior at all. Richard Rohr1
1 ©2011, Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, pg.108, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA
2 ©2011, Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, pp.111,112, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA