Monday, November 26, 2007

Abba's Child - the rest of it...

I've been busy with Turkeys and families and other things, so I haven't had the chance to write lately. I have been reading though, and almost done with the book, so I'm going to attempt to sum up the final chapters in one go (this may end up pretty long).

Chapter 5 - The Pharisee and the Child
Basically, this chapter talks about the "inner Pharisee" compared to the "inner child". The Pharisee is the part of us who misconstrues the point of faith by bogging it down with "religiosity" (just as the Pharisees of Jesus' day did). The "inner child" is the part of us who knows s/he is beloved by God and fully forgiven with no strings attached. My resident Pharisee (as Manning calls it) craves perfection that is impossible to achieve and places an enormous burden on my shoulders and the shoulders of others. It not only affects my expectations of myself but also others. Instead of focusing on the end goal of love, I am focusing on the "means to an end" in my striving and blaming, which twists such noble things into quite the opposite of love. The Pharisee becomes the "religious face of the Imposter" because our desire to look good and be upright on the surface makes it hard for us to have intimacy. The "inner child" however, is in touch with his/her emotions, and is more receptive to God's Spirit moving in his/her midst. The power-hungry and controlling Pharisee cannot match the worry-free experience of the inner child...the child is humble, realizes his weakness, and relies on God's strength and rests his whole identity on the fact that he is Beloved.

Chapter 6 - Present Risenness
The risen Christ must be realized as not only a past event, but a present reality. This is the whole power of the gospel and what makes followers of Christ different from any other faith. Jesus is alive right now and present in our lives. Not only can we get caught up with Christ of the past, but we also get caught up with the Christ of the future. We feel this resurrection is only something that happens at the end of time, in the future, removed from our present day situation. Christ is with us NOW, and our cynicism often blocks the signs and little miracles of every day life that show us this is true. For when we realize that Jesus is truly risen and in our midst, we view life differently, especially the mundane and routine. As we grow closer to Christ, we see more of the Father, we feel driven to compassion as He did and we see a little more revelation of the mystery of life. Following Christ is a discipline and a decision that must not be made requires awareness. This "awareness of the present risenness of Jesus is intimately linked to the recovery of passion...

Chapter 7 - The Recovery of Passion
This chapter talks about how we recover passion by listening to "Christ's heartbeat". We do not merely know about Jesus, but know Jesus' essence: "the human face of the God who is love." It is like discovering a great treasure and selling all you have to possess it. We are so often distracted from true passion in Christ by the "little trinkets" of the world.
The recovery of passion begins with the recovery of my true self as the beloved. If I find Christ I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him. This is the goal and purpose of our lives. John did not believe that Jesus was the most important thing; he believed that Jesus was the only thing. For "the disciple Jesus loved," anything less was not genuine faith.

Manning goes as far to say that the essential quality in church leaders should be in their passion and love for Christ, not "biblical scholars, administrative geniuses or spellbinding preachers." God doesn't work through those who have it together, but through those humbled who love as Christ loves.

Chapter 8 - Fortitude and Fantasy
This chapter deals with the truth of life and death. Either we have the fortitude to face life (and death) or we deny death (and life). Feeling secure in my own accomplishments actually creates more anxiety in the end for fear of losing all in death. True security lies in realizing that in Christ we have "enough" each day. Brennan Manning speaks more about passion in this chapter:
Passion is not high emotion but a steely determination, fired by love, to stay centered in the awareness of Christ's present risenness, a drivenness to pay the price of fidelity. To own my unique self in a world filled with voices contrary to the gospel requires enormous fortitude...The truth of faith has little value when it is not also the life of the heart.

Manning notes that many of these voices of human approval are the stumbling block in our way of an authentic faith in Christ. We are afraid to be the Beloved in fear of losing our relationships with others. I've seen it revealed in this book that while we are meant for community with others, it is our primary relationship with God that directs our relationship with others. The value we place on each other cannot compare to the value our Abba places on us. Faith in the present risenness of Christ (who is God and who is love) is more powerful than death...this is true Hope.

Chapter 9 - The Rabbi's Heartbeat
Manning says that there are a few responses to the radical love of God: Over analyzing, Acceptance and Hope, Cynical, Emotional yet uncommitted. When we allow it, "the love of Christ (not our love for Him but His love for us) impels us. The integration of mind and heart shapes a unified personality living in the state of passionate awareness." Manning speaks of the "unaffected heart", which is one who doesn't get beyond the surface of life. Commitment and confession of sin are the way to dig deeper according to Manning. We commit to something beyond ourselves and we realize we desperately need our Father. With confession of sin comes humility, something that even Mother Theresa felt driven to do.

In Christ is reconciliation for ourselves and the world. He did this through becoming broken, by fully experiencing our own humanity and still being God. In His life and death he turned everything upside down: making foolish things wise, turning "sin into honor", curses into blessings, and death into life. This doesn't mean he makes all bad things good, but that being hurt, being forsaken, being cursed, we are somehow blessed. He went through the same. The most intimate we can be with someone is to show them all of our brokenness, shallowness, and anxieties. We can only fully do this with someone we know we can fully trust will forgive these things and accept us as we are. Christ not only forgives and accepts, but also has the power to transform us. When we listen to the Rabbi's heartbeat, we grow closer to God (Father, Son, and Spirit), we see others rather than ourselves, we learn Christ's passion, and we regain mystery and awe for the world around us, and the God who created it (and Loves it all).

That's about it, in a very large nutshell. I wish I could expand more, but I really feel I'd be missing the point. Instead of thinking about it and over analyzing, I think I will try to learn how to listen to Christ's heartbeat myself! Oh how hard it is to let go and Trust like a child. Abba, show me how to meditate on your Love...


the happy windchime said...

Tricia, I found your blog while I was trying to find out who wrote a paragraph I wrote in my prayer journal. It was from Abba's Child by Brennan Manning, a writer I find challenging and refreshing. Then I started looking through your blog and found Henri Nouwen, Ann Voscamp, and Richard Foster mentioned too. Of course, I had to stop to see what you had written. Thank you for giving me enjoyment on a cold afternoon in SC!! Keep writing on your blog!!! Peace!!

Tricia said...

Thank you so much for the comment and the encouragement! I do want to spend more time pondering/writing on this blog. If I can find that fine point between motivation and guilt that is! :) Fighting the false voices in unproductive guilt and leaning into the Voice of Love is one of my struggles.