The choice between God and the world
We can see it in everyone we know: the lack of self-knowledge and self-love. It’s evident in second-guessing oneself in everything. In not expressing who we are in the world, in not using our own voice to express ourselves.
It’s evident in having to perform and not being sure how you will be received. It’s clear in the lack of peace and trust and love. In the defensiveness rampant in our country. In the projection of our problems onto everyone else, as if another person is the problem, not us.
It’s seen in the habits we all have, what we turn to when we have spare time—in shopping all the time, in playing on-line games in every empty space, in being more in tune with our phones than with the people we’re with, in withdrawing from others rather than engaging, in hostility and trouble with boundaries, in denying others what we have or seek, in circling the wagons to protect ourselves, in saying what we think others want to hear rather than being authentically ourselves, in saying we’re fine, thank you very much, even when it’s clear we’re not. Most of all it’s seen in the lack of integrity we exhibit and our unwillingness to be our own true selves. And, of course, in problems with drugs and alcohol.
What I have described above is the result of our oh-so- human culture and its primacy in our lives. What we lack is integrity and a willingness to put ourselves out in the world, warts and all, to voice who we truly are, to live the lives we were each designed to live, to give back to the world and to God what has been given to us, to claim the wrong we’ve done and our guilt and shame.
I learned the lesson about each one of us having a unique voice years ago on a day trip to visit art galleries in San Francisco. I think we saw maybe 15 artists that day. I was struck by how distinct each artist’s vision was and how he/she was voicing that vision. And by extension I saw how each of us has a unique voice that the world needs to hear. It comes from the deepest part of ourselves, the soul. The more we attend to the soul, the more we’re able to voice what we need to say in the world. And the more grounded we are in the agenda God created for us at our conception.
Jesus said that we can’t serve God and Mammon [read the world]. [Matthew 6:24} And when we try to serve God on the world’s terms, all we do is serve the world. There is no room for God in the world. This is evident in beliefs maintained, but not lived, in evangelism done with hostility and condemnation, in a lack of integrity, in an unwillingness to do more than express beliefs without putting ourselves in God’s hands, in prayer that serves our interests, in churches where human interests are honored and God is forgotten, and where God’s leadership is never invoked.
To serve God is to put our lives and ourselves under his leadership, to surrender our own desires in favor of God’s solutions, to pray for the best and highest that can happen in any situation rather than our own desires for the outcome, to walk hand in hand with God, to walk in peace and love in trust, no matter what.
It is only when we voice through our lives what we believe that we find joy and peace and love. It’s only when we turn ourselves over to his providence that we begin to realize who we could become and what we might do in this world. It’s only as we begin to love, to really love, that we see the world opening up to us and for us in a different and more complete way.
Then what comes forward in the person is not an artist, but the artistry that marks everything the person does. It’s about having a voice. Each person was created with an unique voice, the essence of who he or she is, which needs to be spoken in the world, expressing the sum total of talents, gifts, experience and even challenges. If we give voice to our own true selves, then we are fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.
To do that we have to dig deep within ourselves to the soul and to God’s own Indwelling Spirit which I believe are the same. And when we listen to and happily follow God’s plan for our lives, then we will come to the point that we can finally be who we were called to be, fulfilled, purposeful, loving, living all that we believe. Then we are gifted with the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:23-4 and come to live in the kingdom on Earth. The task for each one of us is to live in such an integrated, loving way that we bring attention to the kingdom that is real and here and available to us all, if only we would live the Gospel truths.
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I voice the deepest truths in my life? Do I know what they are? Am I willing to say what I know to be true deep within me? Do I know how to access this knowledge within me? Will I let Christ lead me to this knowledge and to voicing it?
Blessing for the week: May we discover our “voice.” May we find which avenue for expressing it works best—be it art, writing, having integrity, speaking up for those who have no voice or power and more. May we voice our love, compassion, patience, and joy in any way that works for us.