Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Distortion of Being on Top

I’m reading a book called Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Writings – Annotated and Explained. Rev. Mary Earle has written the annotations. The book covers a variety of themes prevalent in Celtic Christian spirituality, and includes both poetry and prose.

Recently I read this quote from Pelagius: “No one is more ready to pity the exile or the stranger than someone who knows the effects of exile. No one offers lodging to a homeless guest so much as someone who has themselves been dependent on the generosity of others. No one is more likely to feed the hungry or to give a drink to the thirsty than someone who has themselves suffered hunger and thirst. No one is so ready to cover the naked with their own clothes than someone who knows the pain of nakedness and cold. No one is more likely to come to the aid of people who face troubles, misery, and hardship than those who have themselves experienced the misfortune of troubles, misery, and hardship.” Earle’s annotation on this passage includes this observation: “The danger of wealth is not the wealth itself, but the isolating effect it may have on the one who holds the riches. It is easy to forget what it is like to be hungry, homeless, thirsty, or naked when we never have to worry about the next meal, our child’s health, or having adequate housing.”

Most everyone I know well fits into the category of ones holding the riches, myself included. I am convicted by the remarks of Pelagius and Rev. Earle. When I read them, my first thought was of the young people at our southern border and the families that are struggling to escape the violence of gang activity, if not for themselves, at least for their children. How can I make a sweeping statement of judgment when my own children grew up in safety and security?

My viewpoint is that of one holding possessions and power. It’s a distorted view of reality, and it endangers me because the temptation is strong toward self-preservation rather than self-sacrifice. God must surely be crying—for the families who believe the risk of staying home is greater than the risk of leaving, and for those who believe the risk of compassion is greater than the risk of comfort.

I pray that I will move from the safety that endangers me to the sacrifice that leads to wholeness. Jesus said “I am the Way.” May I be part of the Way for others by following the Way down.

Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
   he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
   by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
   he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.

                                                                                (Philippians 2:5-8)

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