Monday, July 11, 2011

The Freedom of Love

Philosophies of what is necessary assert that they can explain everything. They offer user’s instructions on how to bring about the better world by necessity. The philosophy of freedom that comes from faith cannot do this. It has no simple formula for the world. Or, to put it more exactly, its formula for the world is the freedom of God’s love, which calls us in Jesus Christ and ever anew shows the path for man’s freedom.

Reflection – Oh, how we desire to explain everything! It is such a typical human reality. To have it all figured out, get everything, and everyone, nailed down. Seven habits of highly effective people. The Secret to getting what you want. Say this prayer every day, and watch your life flourish. The five-year plan which will yield the worker’s paradise. Tragically, the Final Solution to the “Jewish Problem.”
From the perky self-help books promising the world to their readers to the gas chambers of Auschwitz may seem like a bit of a stretch. I am not, of course, saying that there’s even remotely a moral equivalence of any magnitude between them. But the common thread linking them together is this deep human urge to get everything figured out, settled, tidied up, and nicely squared away. It really is, at heart, a longing for Heaven, for the kingdom where everything will be just as it should be... but channelled into our own efforts and projects.
How hard it is for us to live in the freedom of God’s love! We say we want to. We make the right sounds about the love of God and the beauty of His mercy. But when we realize that this freedom of God’s love calls us to live in a world that we do not control, that is messy and burdensome and dirty and at times excruciatingly painful… and we are called to extend that same mercy, that same free gift to that world, as it is—well, let’s see if there’s one more self-help book that will give us a better option.
The trouble with the self-help books, the ideologies, the programs and plans, is that they exclude the person, the individual, the relationship. There's this set of principles or rules or structures that are going to guarantee our success, and we just have to plug all our relationships and people into those structures... or eliminate them if they won't plug in. The reduction of people to parts of our schemas. Because it's the schema that will make us happy, not the people.
And of course, people as such won't make us happy, will they? But we go looking for our happiness somewhere other than the real communion of persons, the self-gift, the embrace of love between the Father, the Son, the Spirit into which we are called, and out of which we are destined to live.
No! That's too messy, too insecure. Too much trust required! We will make our happiness on the seven secret habits of the highly effective rules of the Marxist Jabez Nazis! Or something.
Freedom. God. Relationship. Communion. Mess. Somehow it is in embracing the untidy messiness of the world that we open up to the freedom of God’s love, the depths of His mercy, both the receiving of the Gift, and the giving of our little gift.
That’s all we’ve got, we Christians. Is it enough? What do you think?

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