Thursday, 31 May 2007

Held apart

In Romans 12:20-21, we are told, ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink. By this, you will be heaping red hot coals on his head. Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.’

Let that always be our aim, but in those rare times when all such offering of love and compassion is rejected, and when contact undermines or destroys our equilibrium and our ability to discern God’s will, let us not take this to be an instruction to maintain the status quo.
We are not called to be present to all people at all times.
We are not called to be present to every person at every moment.
We are called to love all people, including our enemies, and not to judge them; to hate their sin as we must hate our own, but always to love them, and, ‘as much as is possible, and to the utmost of your ability, be at peace with everyone.’ ( Romans 12:18)

'Bless your persecutors; never curse them , bless them.’ (Romans 12:14)

There are those with whom we may find it impossible to be at peace, and, with evil and goodness hating each other equally, we must not prolong our presence in their company beyond necessity; indeed, if there is no necessity there should be no presence, and the passage of time should not be allowed to weaken our resolve in this.
Just as we may find some people to be playing essential parts in our journey - those who are God’s provision for us - so we must learn to recognize those whose presence, or whose words or actions, influence us in ways that bring about the weakening or the dismembering of our faith. The dismantling of our growing strength can be begun by the smallest of angers, or ill wishes, or frustrations, and there may be those whose presence in our lives, however distant or infrequent the contact, bring about such loosening of the stones beneath our feet.
This loosening may be so subtle that it does not result in any conscious reversal, or retreat, or withdrawal from our calling, but we only need to be delayed for a while, to be distracted, disturbed, or to be held back, for them to have achieved their end.

Any small reduction in a perceived goodness in us reduces the contrast between us, and helps them in maintaining their self-image.

It is an essential requirement of spiritual peace, and of the inner strength and stability which the Holy Spirit builds within us, that we learn to exclude the influence of these people from our lives. We have to ensure that we make no move to accommodate their attitudes or mindsets within our own lives or the lives of others. Any determination on their part to maintain their abrasive, offensive, or even abusive contact will make this very difficult, and will certainly result in increased aggravation, and even a long running battle, but be assured, if evil is at work to prevent us achieving our goal as the persons we are called to be, it will not easily be made to let go.
If that is truly what we strive for, evil has good reason to drag us down and to prevent the empowering of the goodness within us.
Evil has reason to fear each one of us.
And let us never forget our need to fear the consequences of sliding into the false promise of peace offered by compromise.
The apparent deepening of the chasm between us and such people is, in reality, a clarification of the incompatibility of our spiritual lives. Making no space available for their ways of thinking and of being, may involve making no place for their physical presence either.
Complete exclusion may be impossible, for example in the case of family members who will be met at gatherings, be this only at christenings, weddings and funerals. Yes, such situations come very close to home for some people, and in such cases, how little the powers of evil may need to exert themselves to achieve their aims.

Most of us, thank God, will not have any such person in our lives, but for some people such situations are very real, and for the most part completely hidden from others; they may be highly abusive relationships from which there is no visible exit.
Through the influence of their enemies – for that is what they are – their daily lives are laid out along the very edge of a precipice, but unlike the advancing, beckoning and mystical edges along our spiritual paths, where God’s presence draws us ever onwards, closer to and then beyond the edge, this is an abrasive and dark force which drives them towards further depths of unrest and despair.
God’s presence is in the solid ground beneath us, away from this edge, and as soon as they turn towards Him his waiting arms will enfold them in absolute safety.
Let us pray for those who know well the war waged in such situations, that through their faith, trust and discernment of the way ahead, they may be led safely into the spiritual peace that is their birthright.

As with the early stages of grief, we are not able to have that peace when we are in any state of upset, turmoil or distraction resulting from trying to accommodate such people.
Only when we can allow emptiness to be itself, and to remain unfilled until flooded with nothing but the presence, the love and the peace of God, will we be able to settle in that all-encompassing and productive quiet which is spiritual peace. This cannot begin to live in us, and nor can we live in it, while we are not in a position to be at peace in our hearts. This in its turn is not achievable while we are not at peace within our minds, and even the start-point for that – a physical peace in our bodies and in our physical lives – must remain unruffled if we are to move towards a real calm within ourselves.

‘Bad company corrupts good ways.’ (1 Corinthians 15:34)

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

hit counters
Cox Cable High Speed

St Blogs Parish Directory
Religion Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory Religion Blogs - Blog Top Sites - The internets fastest growing blog directory Religion and Spirituality Blog Directory See blogs and businesses for United Kingdom