Wednesday, March 19, 2014

justification, self-justification, and blame

Today in my Emergent Gathering class we spent quite a bit of time talking about pluralism, and how Christians relate to folks of other religions/no particular religion.

What struck me about the conversation, given some struggles in my life and this idea of "giving up knowing" for Lent, is how easy it is for me to think about giving up my rightness when it comes to people with different faith backgrounds or religious beliefs...

...and how terribly difficult it is for me to give up being right in other areas of my life...

...and what that says about what I value. About where my treasure is and, therefore, where my heart is.

It's easy for me to shrug off being right about Jesus.

It's hard for me to give up a the feeling of being wounded or treated unfairly.

I was at Leigh's church the other day and we were doing a lectio divina, where the text is read meditatively instead of intellectually and we focus on words or images that seem to stick or stand out. A few of us shared, and then someone shared that she just "takes the text literally and just reads what the Word says."

This stands against everything I believe about scripture. Frankly that kind of statement annoys me. And still, I shrugged it off pretty easily. She's entitled to her beliefs.

But once I start feeling hurt or devalued? Once I get upset about something? It's very hard for me to turn off the hunt for rightness.

And that hunt is almost always dissatisfying. Brene Brown says that's because looking for blame is actually the opposite of accountability, because it allows us to focus on the feeling of being wronged rather than on clearly communicating our feelings of hurt or confusion.

It is always a hard thing to come face to face with the worst in ourselves, with the petty and the small, the self-centered and even the violent, that lurks in us. That's happened to me more than a few times over the past few months. And it's made me realize (again) that my addiction isn't theological rightness; it's being "right" in a much more superficial or petty sense. I don't know quite what to make of that, but there it is.

Sunday I preached at AU and I said something like, "We're not called to be right, we're called to be faithful."

And that means giving up self-justification and embracing justification, that old, old idea that it's a loving God that makes things right, not my conviction that I am right.

I suppose it's as hard, and as easy, as it always has been.

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