Monday, February 29, 2016

180 Degrees

What might it be like to be closed off totally from God's love?

I can't even imagine that would be possible. Just as I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose totally the love of my mother or my father. No matter how bad things may have gotten between one or another of us - and there were those times - no matter how far apart we seemed to have grown, there was always the possibility of "coming home." I don't mean physically - but always a chance that whatever it was that caused the rift could be healed.

To be sure, there would be scars. My mom was one of those who never forgot. Yes, 30 years later, the event, the hurtful words, the bad action, whatever it was, would surface during an argument or disagreement. She never forgot -- and in fact, the memory might even be a little embellished from what I remembered it to be. That might be the fact that I wanted to forget and so I wasn't so keen on remembering. But I do believe the one who was indeed keen on remembering maybe enhanced that memory just a wee bit - but I digress!

The real point is that all through my life, even when I thought I might have crossed the Rubicon - the point of no return - there was always salvation. Perhaps that is why I find it so hard to think that anyone could actually believe that they were beyond the pale of God's immense love.

Yet, in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Dives, he is often called), just such an occurrence happens. Dives goes beyond the pale. He seems to have committed the "unforgivable sin." He neglected "the least of these," as Jesus calls the poor, to his own aggrandizement and pleasure. But was the unforgivable thing he had done? I don't think so. I think the real problem comes from his failure to recognize that the pattern of his life is contrary to the life of God.

From the Scriptures, there is no doubt that God has special care for the poor, those that, through no fault of their own, fall on hard times largely because of the greed and selfishness of others in the world. Dives fails to see that. He fails to see the special care of God for "the other" - and when he becomes "the other" he reaps the fruit of the seed he himself had sown. It isn't a matter of God's failure to forgive - God would happily have done so - if Dives would have been forgiven. But how can you be forgiven for something you do not think or believe is wrong? That's the crux of the matter.

The reason I was always able to reconcile with my mom (or my dad for that matter) regardless of how off base I seemed to be, was that there was a willingness on both our parts to admit failure and to recognize that it was more important for us to be together than apart. We succeeded in that because, for some reason, as big as our respective egos were, they were never so big as to become the most important thing in the room. The need for our relationship(s) was always larger than our egos. So, when everybody cooled down, and sometimes with the aid of someone on the "outside" - the blessed dynamic of reconciliation took hold. We could never be totally cut off from one another.

So, too, I believe it is with God. God will never cut us off, regardless of what we may have done or failed to do. There might be an argument or two along the way. There might be scars in our relationship, but reconciliation will always bring things right - that is why God sent the Son. The grace for which I must pray, then, is always to have control over my ego - always to be willing to see that maybe, just maybe, the pattern I have established for myself has to be adjusted. Even a little adjustment will bring me closer to God. The only direction that is fatal is to turn 180 degrees away from God and keep walking. Maybe my compass never read 180 degrees opposite from my God.

-- read Luke 16:19-31

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