Richard Rohr Meditation: Questioning Our Loyalties

Most religion is highly “legitimating religion.” It is used for social control and public order by the powers that be and individuals. This oppressive use of religion has allowed much of Christian history to fully cooperate in toxic and unjust societies—just as long as each person had “a personal relationship with Jesus.” This will not work anymore; in fact, it never did.

..  If we profess Jesus is indeed “the savior of the world” (John 4:42), we must not, we cannot, continue to think of salvation as merely a private matter. We are wasting our time trying to convert individuals without also challenging corporate, collective sin and fully institutionalized evil.

.. When we send momentarily changed people back into a corrupt system, people can think they are godly but it will never last for long or at any depth.

.. Social justice is clearly God’s concern, starting with liberation of God’s people in the Exodus, yet it has taken Christians a long time to be able to see the Gospel in a fully historic, social, and political context. Truly transformed people organically change the world, while fundamentally unchanged people can only conform to the system and wholeheartedly cheer it on (see Romans 12:2). Culture will win out every time over the Gospel if it is not critiqued by the Gospel.

.. After authentic conversion, our old “country” no longer holds any ultimate position. We can’t worship it any longer as we were once trained to do. Our national identity is okay, probably necessary, but very limited in its capacity for truth, much less universal truth.

Richard Rohr Meditation: Love Needs a Face

.. It was probably St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226) who first brought attention to the humanity of Jesus within organized Christianity. During its first thousand years, the Church was mainly concerned with proving that Jesus was God. Prior to St. Francis, paintings of Jesus largely emphasized Jesus’ divinity, as they still do in most Eastern icons. Francis is said to have created the first live nativity scene.

The brilliant Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) said the only thing that really converts people is “an encounter with the face of the other,”

.. When the face of the other (especially the suffering face) is received and empathized with, it leads to transformation of our whole being. It creates a moral demand on our heart that is far more compelling than laws. Just giving people commandments on tablets of stone doesn’t change the heart.

Worshiping a Golden Calf on Sunday Morning Is Deceptively Easy

All sin is idolatry because every sin is an exercise in trust of something or someone other than the one true God to satisfy, fulfill, or bless.

.. We must take great care, then, not to assume that even in our religious environments, where we put the Scriptures under so many noses, that it is Jesus the exalted Christ who is being worshiped.

.. Once upon a time, I sat through a little ditty in a church service in which the congregation was led to sing, “I can change the world with these two hands,” and the question struck me like a lightning bolt: “Who exactly am I worshiping right now?”

Likewise, every weekend men and women file into church buildings in order to exult in the rhetorical skill of their preacher, to admire him and think of their church as his church, not Christ’s church.

.. We worship the worship experience; we tithe with expectation of return from heaven’s slot machine; we dress to impress

.. We see in Exodus 32:5 that even the worshipers of the golden calf ascribed their worship to the covenant Lord Yahweh.

.. Tim Keller elaborates: “So Luther says that even after you are converted by the gospel your heart will go back to operating on other principles unless you deliberately, repeatedly set it to gospel-mode.”

.. The proclamation of the good news of Jesus and the extolling of his eternal excellencies is always an interruption, always a disruption.