This is a small update on my first post about the wonderful discovery of responsibility. While on my retreat, I realised that issues in me that I didn't want to recognise (they really "suck" as Americans would say) held me back from deeper relationships. Fragmented identity is a killer in our modern societies, and more than once I have heard French philosophers wax lyrical about the fatigue and pain of simply being.
At least some of what Christianity understands as "sin" in our lives, makes existing really hard work, simply trying to "hold it all together". As a fragmented person, as soon as I meet someone, I am confronted with complex decisions like: what aspect of who I am should I reveal to that person? Shall I try and impress them falsely to feel better about myself? If there is no real sense of cohesion in my identity, then my relationships will instantly suffer and level out, for the simple reason that folk aren't dupe. We all sense when what you see is NOT what you get. That discrepancy has potential to ruin relationships. Because our potential friends do not seem knowable or trustworthy even to themselves. In the New Testament of the Bible, James says:
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
In fact the first chapter of James is really hot on deep sincerity, and not just with other people. With ourselves.
Taking responsibility is a wonderful spiritual process that has its place in what Christians call repentance. Taking responsibility is taking ownership of everything you are (the bits you love and the bits you'd hate anyone else to point to you) and all the negative consequences of your existence on others, intentional or otherwise. Most of the time it is otherwise.
Roadworks make you late for your husband, who regularly criticises you. This is a very tough one. But can you imagine a you who has the depths of grace to dig soooo deep down to find the genuine sorry, even though it is not your fault? One of my grievances about the 1st century Palestinian context in which Christ's life and record are indelibly marked, is that some of these "grace notes" of please, thank you, so sorry, and so on have yet to be developed.
This is a good point to address a mistake I made in my previous post, where I overly connected the idea of sin and responsibility. I appended a small comment about this to the post itself to state:
A couple of issues in the relationship between responsibility and sin here ... If God took his responsibility with respect to his oath, Responsibility is not a.k.a. "sin", as I casually asserted .... Responsibility is about truly being in the universe, without any discrepancy between word and deed, word and thought, thought and deed, repressed desire and thought, and so on. Since sinning is affecting me and others in the universe, and I often ignore it, then this is an example of failure to *be* in the universe and take my responsibility. Taking responsibility creates re-alignment in the chaos, and is truly a most beautiful thing.
What could we say with respect to he who was without sin, Jesus Christ? Jesus' human path of self-realisation is nothing short of extraordinary. It is assumed by some that Jesus actually may have coined the term "hypocrite". For Jesus, this inner cohesion is E S S E N T I A L for the holy life of his followers. I think perhaps the best way to understand the spiritually mature Jesus (and apparently he was streets ahead even at age 12!), is to realise that he became totally incorruptible. You could tempt him all you liked, but sin had zero hold on him, because he truly loved his Father God and cultivated his relationship with God. And it was mutual. When you see in John's gospel especially all this Jesus-talk of I depend on the Father for this and I depend on the Father for that, Jesus (theologically and I am certain historically) must have been a grand master of humility (see John 5:19 and 12:49, for example). Amazing. Without the Father, Jesus would have had no source for his abilities, words, wisdom, than himself, and this perspective strapped to a human brain has a highly reliable pride-generating mechanism.
As a slight aside: I'd like to announce plans to launch a website at some point in the next few months dedicated to promoting the love shared between the father and the son in the Christian faith. There will be a subsection about Christian worship too. Regular readers of the blog might already be aware that I am quite concerned by the modalistic tendencies in some churches (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are so "one" that they are basically the same person, he's called "God", and he loves me), fuelled by a plethora of confusing Christian worship songs. The goal here is not to smash the modalism (that won't change anything), but again to promote what is so precious and at stake by confusing the Father and Son. Love itself.