Monday, July 14, 2014

Accepting what is provided

One way in which we train children and even disciples of Jesus is to elevate them to a greater level of responsibility, in effect letting faith have a role both in us the trainers and in them the trainees. As the trainees are dealing with their new responsibilities, we encourage them by making the most of their successes and minimizing their failures, in effect saying, “I believe in you, you can do it.” This is not to put faith in humans, as it may appear on the surface; it is actually putting faith in God, on whom we depend for everything, for virtue in ourselves and in others, because apart from Him we can do nothing good.

The experiment of taking “problem kids” and doctoring their records, then turning them over to a new batch of teachers who didn't know them, and who taught them with high expectations of their success, which they rose to, is a variation of this same method, except it was involuntary on the part of the teachers.

We have been given the grace of God to be followers of Jesus because someone or several believed in us enough to pray for us, gently guide us into the life of salvation, helping us to rise to their expectations because, knowing they loved us so much, we thought, “How can I disappoint him?” This is my story, and the story of many others I personally know or have read about.

Speaking of a promotion a brother wrote, “After noticing what a positive change the event had in me, I was bopping about my life mostly reflecting that this is a positive thing. But then I read this account of someone talking about how they did not want their identity wrapped up in anything other than Christ. They were headed to a new job, and they did not want this to impact who they were.”

This person who did not want his new job to impact who he was, because he didn't want his identity wrapped up in anything other than Christ, this is faulty thinking. The fact that he was given a new job or responsibility level has the significance of God personally assigning him a commandment which he alone can fulfill. The wrongness of his attitude comes itself from pride, and from trying to be more spiritual than God, who arranged his new job in the first place. Do you understand what I am getting at?

Here is a story from the Desert Fathers that applies to this situation of rejecting what we think ordinary and pretending to a loftier call:

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf, that one day he said to his elder brother, “I should like to be free of all care, like the angels who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God.” So he took off his cloak and went away into the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door, he heard his brother say, before he opened it, “Who are you?” He said, “I am John, your brother.” But he replied, “John has become an angel, and henceforth he is no longer among men.” Then the other begged him saying, “It is I.” However, his brother did not let him in, but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, “You are a man and you must once again work in order to eat.” Then John made a prostration before him, saying, “Forgive me.”

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