Monday, February 14, 2011

Devotional Reading 140211

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for the blessings of rain and moistures. We may complain about the inconvenience. But without the seasonal rain we suffer a lot of consequences. Sometimes life is full of this kind of experiences. We complain about some “bad or inconvenient” encounters like rain on Valentine Day that seems to ruin the festivity. But rain is properly the loving gift that God has given to us who need it for our survival. “We need it but we don’t like it” is a common kind of contradiction in life that we learn to deal with from time to time. It also causes us to meditate on the kind of God we deal with not only just temporarily but eternally.

Christian meditation is based on a view of the world that finds each individual important, both in the material realm and in the nonmaterial or spiritual realm. In this practice of meditation one expects to meet someone, and the encounter is usually experienced as a relationship with a person. Even to talk about it one must generally resort to images. Sometimes the encounter itself is experienced in vivid inner images. Christian meditation is not a way of escaping from one’s condition. Rather it is something we undertake in order to bring the totality of our being into relationship with a person, an Other to whom we can relate. Before anything else this means stepping out in trust, experimenting to see if one does find such a reality of the loving Father or the Risen Christ.

Through meditating we explore in order to know more and more of God. But before He is discovered, a person only believes; through experiencing a relationship one comes to know. Believing is a stage on the way to knowing. Consequently one of the main conditions for effective meditation is to gain some idea of the reality we are seeking. This is found in the Christian story. It is the Good News of Christianity; it asserts that God is like Jesus, that at the heart and core of reality is the same loving, forgiving concern expressed in the life and teachings of Jesus and in His story of the prodigal…The reality of love revealed by Jesus demands real relationship and, as I have tried to suggest, this is difficult for us. Most of us are quite willing to be cared for, to be coddled and protected, but it takes great courage for men and women to relate, even to each other. Real relationship is not often found among human beings.

Whenever real love and relationship develop between human beings, they face the demanding task of coming to terms with the less pleasant elements of themselves. God offers us a far more accepting love than any human relationship, and we actually shy away from it because of the deepening honesty and growth it requires, both of which involve shedding one’s skin time after time. This is difficult and demanding.

Yet Jesus of Nazareth tells us to approach God by addressing Hin “Abba.” This is one of His unique contributions to religious thought and I practice. Christians are told to turn to the very force that moves the sun and other stars and speak like small children who need their father and call out “Daddy!” knowing that they will be answered. In other religions, and even among many “Christians,” there is a very different idea of God.

Most of the world pictures the ruler of the universe like an Oriental potentate who must be approached almost crawling on one’s belly. His justice is not questioned. He is feared, because He is infinitely distant, infinitely just, and He administers the justice with a heavy hand. Often He appears very much like an almighty steamroller whose majestic will and wrath and judgment must be accepted with resignation, without hope. There are even people to whom God appears to be an unreasonable tyrant who strikes out angrily one moment and comforts and heals the next. No wonder people have little desire to relate to such a God and prefer to leave prayer to the professionals. Those who hold such ideas of God deep within themselves cannot help but pray very differently from Christians who find the love of a father for a child at the heart of their most central experiences.

This is indeed our privilege to be introduced to God as our Abba Father by our Lord Jesus. We don’t need to worry about how the owner of this universe may punish us because of our sins. Yes, we deserve the ultimate punishment of eternal death, yet God accepts and forgives us just like the father of the prodigal son. The prodigal son rebelled against his father. He wasted all his gifts (money, time and talents) which were meant for him to invest in life for his selfish desires. Nevertheless, as he returned to his father with a repentant heart he was embraced with loving forgiveness. We questioned this kind of love and condemned it as “spoiling” and “unfair” just as the elder son in the story protested. This kind of unconditional love is truly beyond human being can comprehend. However, this is the kind of love that God wants us to learn from Him and apply to one another. Only God can provide love of this kind for building real relationship.

With full conviction or faith in such a loving God, we are taught to pray to Him…Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom comes. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…We believe He receives our prayer and our whole being wholeheartedly and lovingly. Praise the Lord!!!

With love from our Father,

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