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
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Communion and the Verdict
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.