BEING IN WITHOUT BEING OF THE WORLD
Whenever one goes through a “big” moment in our lives (good or bad) there is often a rather significant “hangover” – mentally, spiritual & even physically. We come out the other side wondering a bit more out-loud about where our next steps might be taking us... who we are now... how we have been changed. For the disciples in the days after the crucifixion and resurrection reports are that they spent a lot of time hiding in an upper room, afraid and not at all sure what was coming next. Until..
As we now move together into “the days after” celebrating the great passion and promise of Holy Week and Easter, it might do us well to do a bit of “wondering” too. After all, as Easter people, the power of God’s love for us as it was profoundly proven to us on the cross AND the defeat of death (of every kind) that is sealed by the empty tomb could/should change us.. transform us.. and challenge us too. In the very least we should be wondering about what it might look like to LIVE our gratitude to God for it all.
Later in the works of Paul, he will talk about how that transformation of our hearts and minds is seen in how Christians live IN the world (active and serving and loving and working to transform it) but not OF the world (as in consumed or controlled by it). In a devotion from Henri Nouwen I read this week he talks about this saying...
“Being in the world without being of the world.” These words summarize well the way Jesus speaks of the spiritual life. It is a life in which we are totally transformed by the Spirit of Love. Yet it is a life in which everything seems to remain the same. To live a spiritual life does not mean that we must leave our families, give up our jobs, or change our ways of working; it does not mean that we have to withdraw from social or political activities, or lose interest in literature and art; it does not require severe forms of asceticism or long hours of prayer. Changes such as these may in fact grow out of our spiritual life, and for some people radical decisions may be necessary. But the spiritual life can be lived in as many ways as there are people. What is new is that we have moved from the many things to the Kingdom of God. What is new is that we are set free from the compulsions of our world and have set our hearts on the only necessary thing. What is new is that we no longer experience the many things, people, and events as endless causes for worry, but begin to experience them as the rich variety of ways in which God makes his presence known to us.” (Henri Nouwen – Daily Email Devotion)
Nouwen is both a very graceful AND challenging writer/thinker. His words invite us to wonder who we now are as we walk into the world with the Good News of Easter now loudly ringing in our ears and in our hearts. We look for ways to BE thankful in our living... to show God that we know how valuable the gift of life and hope can be... and for ways to live our love for God in our love and compassion for each other.
May the Easter “hangover” be as life transforming for you as it had to be for those first disciples. And may we like them be finally driven out of hiding and in to the world to share that transformation with it.
Be well... be safe... BE HOPE!
- Pastor Stewart, May 5, 2022