Reading is one of my primary venues for connecting with God; and every once in a while I come across something that speaks to the deepest parts of my soul in a fresh and life-giving way; such as the following by Brennan Manning.
Thomas Merton‘s notion of sin focuses not primarily on individual sinful acts but on a fundamental option for a life of pretense. Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us. “There can only be two basic loves,” wrote Augustine, “the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness of God.” (Emphasis mine)
Merton said that a life devoted to the shadow is a life of sin. I have sinned in my cowardly refusal – out of fear of rejection – to think, feel, act, respond, and live from my authentic self. We even refuse to be our true self with God – and then wonder why we lack intimacy with Him.
Accepting the reality of our sinfulness means accepting our authentic self. When we accept the truth of what we really are and surrender it to Jesus Christ, we are enveloped in peace, whether or not we feel ourselves to be at peace. By that I mean the peace that passes understanding is not a subjective sensation of peace; if we are in Christ, we are in peace even when we feel no peace.
The Master says to us: “Burn the old tapes spinning ’round in your head that bind you up and lock you into a self-centered stereotype. Listen to the new song of salvation written for those who know they are poor. Let go of your fear of the Father and your dislike of yourself. The father of lies twists the truth and distorts reality. He is the author of cynicism and skepticism, mistrust and despair, sick thinking and self-hatred. I am the Son of Compassion. You belong to me and no one will tear you from My hand.”
Jesus discloses God’s true feelings toward us. As we turn the pages of the Gospels, we discover that the people Jesus encounters there are you and me. The understanding and compassion He offers them, He also offers you and me.
~ From The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning, p. 31-32
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” ~ 1 John 4:15-16