Posts Tagged With: relationship

The outer man and the inner man

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10.

I do not want to live a dual life, a life where I am busy doing things on the outside, and then periodically throughout the day feel like I have to ‘turn back’ to God in order to feel His presence. I think that most Christians desire to know the presence of God continually, they understand that relationship with Him is the driving force behind everything they do. There seems to be such a disconnect though with this desire for the presence of God and the reality of what our days really look like. Watchman Nee, in his masterpiece ‘The breaking of the outer man and the release of the Spirit’ argues that the work of a Christian is ultimately futile if the ‘outer man’ has not been broken as he can not properly exercise the ‘inner man’, his spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells within us, the Bible repeatedly tells us this (1 Cor. 6:9). We, ourselves, are the greatest frustration to the work we want to do for God. The prayer I want to always be praying is that God, in his mercy, breaks, disciplines and changes all those earthly things that are in my mind and fill my emotions. He can then really have his way in my life.

I need to humble myself before God, to pray that His will, not mine be done.

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Into the desert

“We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good. But this is only a secondary end. The one end that includes all others is the love of God.”

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation.

I am not very good at any kind of purposeful meditation or contemplation. To spend long periods of time in solitude attempting to be still or ‘look within myself’ feels too hard, too anxiety ridden. I have tried many times but invariably end up surrendering after about three minutes, congratulate myself on a job half done and resolve to try again another time.

For this reason, reading Thomas Merton’s book about contemplation has been very insightful and quite exciting. He accepts that physical solitude and interior silence are important for a contemplative life, but forcefully rejects the idea that we need to ‘go into the desert’ simply because we like or need to be alone. As highlighted in the above quote, for Merton, contemplation is important so that we can learn how we can best be of service to our neighbour, friend, brother, or stranger. I very much like this idea, because I believe in a relational God. I believe that a life is at its most fulfilled when we are fully invested in the lives of others, those who are our natural friends, and those who are suffering.

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Call myself a believer

Although God lives in the souls of men who are unconscious of Him, how can I say that I have found Him and found myself in Him if I never know Him or think of Him, never take any interest in Him or seek Him or desire His presence in my soul? What good does it do to say a few formal prayers to Him and then turn away and give all my mind and all my will to created things, desiring only ends that fall short of Him.”

Thomas Merton. ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’.

If I don’t know any of the players on a soccer team, am oblivious to any of the team’s achievements, and never watch any of their games, can I still call myself a supporter? Technically, yes, but doesn’t being a supporter of a team mean that one has to provide some kind of support? Surely one has to invest some part of his/her time or resources into following the club, otherwise the word ‘supporter’ simply becomes meaningless. I think an approximate analogy can be made regarding one’s relationship with God. If we don’t invest anything into our relationship with God, do we still maintain the right to call ourselves a believer in Him?

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