Thursday, February 10, 2011

Devotional reading 100211

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Once in a while, I have this luxury to spend a whole morning in reading and meditation without interruptions. We need time like this to deal with our inner cry for help. Work is good because God intended for us to work. Work becomes bad if we use it to cover up our inner need or craving for God. Satan wants us to be too busy to pray and interact with God.

The teachings of Jesus suggest that we should not wait until we know all about suffering to find our need. We need to be delivered from the source of our inhumanity, Jesus taught, and He told us first of all to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” Then in various ways He showed that the task is to look within and to know what is causing the trouble and whether we are nursing anger or harmful desires in our hearts. Our job is not just to wait for evil to happen in the outer world and men try to do something about the pain and agony it causes. Instead, Christians are to recognize the source of evil within themselves so that they can seek help in order to stand outwardly against it.

It is often easy to identify this force within oneself. This force is like a death wish which attacks a person in depression and anxiety, fear and rage as many people find when they turn inward. No matter how much one struggles against it, this force is still there ready to tear the person apart and drag him/her down into icy isolation. None of us escapes its destructive drag entirely. Some people simply give way to outbursts easily, while others bottle up the lousy feeling it arouses and suffer the effects of tension. Either way the effect is uncreative and hostile to love and growth.

The idea that we have outgrown our need to turn to God for help in dealing with evil, or the idea, in fact, that there is no such thing as cosmic evil, would be funny if it did not show such a tragic lack of understanding. This force has to be faced and dealt with or it will keep on turning our homes and our world into a battlefield. We sometimes find it hard to understand why Jesus said that the poor in spirit, the meek and sorrowing are blessed, but per perhaps it was because they are the ones who know they can’t manage their lives by themselves. Once a person realizes that there is a spiritual or psychoid world as well as physical one, that person learns that there are forces of evil more destructive than the simply human ones, and that these spiritual forces of evil are those that the individual cannot deal with on one’s own. They are more powerful realities like the force of gravity or some other force of the universe, than many of the more recent ways of thinking about Satan or the evil one would suggest.

We can be so protected by life that we fail to see the depth and power of evil, and we wonder why all the to-do about something that should require only some real intelligence and reason. This failure to comprehend evil as an autonomous force with a power to affect human life is a kind of unconsciousness that can lead to disaster. As Berdyaev remarked, the powers of evil certainly appear to be at least as intelligent as the powers of light. He made these remarks as he was looking back over his life with the communist revolution and the two world wars, all of which he had survived.

When we do awaken and realize our own helplessness, then the second door is opened to the inward way. The realization of our spiritual poverty and our need for help from beyond ourselves is the moisture that breaks open the seed. This breaking of the husk fulfills the second condition for the practice of prayer and meditation. It takes great courage, however, to enter this door or to seek for this moisture unless life has already done it for us. Once the depth of your soul has been penetrated, you have little choice; either you follow the religious way like a search for rare treasure, or else you must turn back to the ordinary world with resolute detachment and probably despair. At times one wishes one could back up and start over, but consciousness was apparently designed without a reverse gear.

The reflection on the reality of evil is very insightful to me. It helps me realize two common reactions toward suffering or unpleasant experience in life: one is aggression and other is avoidance. My natural instinct toward any threat of suffering is to escape. I don’t want to face any helpless situation that involves unpleasant experience, whether it involves myself directly or with others. I would walk away and pretend not seeing it. Or I simply switch channel if it was on TV. Those human tragedy seemed to surface the dark side of my soul or fear that I don’t want to encounter. I would rather avoid to face it – I would prefer comedy or happy ending drama if I were to watch a movie. Any evil story even if it was only a fiction would cause some uneasy feelings or fear within me that was unpleasant. And on the other hand, as Kelsey shared, suffering could stir up evil aggression in return. “An eye for an eye” is human common reaction toward evil treatment just as our Lord Jesus admitted; but his reaction toward the evil one was love. He said, “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:43-44). It is certainly not easy to face the reality of evil squarely, and seek God’s help to react in a godly manner with love. We will not be able to learn this kind of love unless we recognize the reality of evil within us. We hope that God will always apply this kind of love to sinners like us. This reality of evil within me surfaced in the form of random aggression in my imagination and dream that totally surprised myself. I hate to see that evil forces within me unleashed when I were to encounter a “prefect” evil environment. We truly need to seek help from God in delivering us from the evil one daily…Amen.

Love you with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12b),

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