Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Communion and the Verdict

But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32

Does knowing God begin with knowing ourselves?  Or do we know ourselves because we know God?  I have had those weird dreams where I am unclothed in inappropriate situations.  If I am willing to look honestly at myself, put aside my persona and lower my shields to stand naked in the light of truth, there is no need for judgment on God’s part. 

That’s a lot more than saying I’m a horrible person, which is pretty easy.  If I’m not careful I can turn my faults into a brag.  It does make for some good stories.  We need to shine the light into the dark corners of our hearts, into the locked chambers whose doors we usually refuse to open.  If I want communion, I must allow exposure and face the shame of, not just the wicked things I’ve done, but of the wicked self who was behind them.  

Our true chastisement is losing the presence of God.  By exploring and thoroughly searching past our actions and words to our motives, by being demanding, exacting and severe toward ourselves without hiding behind excuses and rationalizations, we come to see plainly the weakness of the Law.  I am not able, in the flesh, to please God.  The paradox is that we have to give up, but we can’t give up too soon. 

It’s a strange thing.  You know, from the first, that you can’t win.  At least, we know it mentally because it’s right there in plain sight, in the text, in church doctrine, on the lips of everyone sent to teach us.  Still, most of us, I suspect, take quite a bit of convincing at the heart level.  We have to bang our heads against reality more than once – my head is rather hard, to move from an intellectual acceptance to a solid and certain conviction.  Self-examination, self-judgment, and self-discipline are part of the process, and I’m not sure there’s any shortcut allowed around it.  Perhaps there are some who work it all out in a one-time flash of insight and transformation at the mourners’ bench.  I’m not one of those.   Like an ogre or an onion, I find that I have layers of stupidity that have to be painfully peeled away one at a time.  Somewhere under there is Christ. 


Rick said...

"If I’m not careful I can turn my faults into a brag."

Well, the other side of that too is I can tend to make a mountain out of a molehill of my errors and shortcomings. I don't know if you do. If I had to guess I'd say you do (being brothers, and all) Too much is not productive or helpful. That must be true. It can wear a person out more than it should. I'm fighting myself and the enemy?! I'm outnumbered.

julie said...

Like an ogre or an onion, I find that I have layers of stupidity that have to be painfully peeled away one at a time. Somewhere under there is Christ.

Yes, I know that feeling. Or perhaps like Eustace in his dragon skin...

John Lien said...

I know what you mean, Mush and Rick. Seems these days, whenever I think of my past, even recent past, I feel such shame. I suppose that is part of the purification process. But as Rick noted you can go too far beating yourself up. I have trust that our Father won't let it kill me, well, the real me that is.

mushroom said...

Yes, I tend to be harder on myself than probably anyone else. It's like I'm trying to get ahead of anybody else's criticism.

There's a picture going around of some dorky-looking boy self-shaming himself about feminism -- I think Ace had it. It's not that hard to go overboard with "we're not worthy".

Lewis' image of Eustace is one of those things that is so utterly right, I think I stop every time I read it.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yes, I suppose there must be a balance. I know I can tend to kick myself too much when I sin.
OTOH, there are times I get far to content with no self-discipline.

Of course, self-discipline doesn't mean goin' all Punisher on myself.