I recently heard Bishop Robert Schnase, author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, share material for his work-in-progress next book, Five Practices of Fruitful Living. Here are some notes that I took…
Obstacles to us receiving/accepting God’s love:
What keeps us from God? We have a fast forward lifestyle. There are high tech sounds and sensations all around us. We live in a fast forward motion in our physical world. We invest time, passion, and energy in things that do not merit it. We surf the internet and change the channels on the TV remote without purpose. We must swim in our celebrity culture daily. Watching TV is good because it provides fantasy and relaxation, but where does a pattern of years of unreflective life lead us?
Think of someone that you admire. Do you admire that person because of all the things they purchase? The extra hours they spend at work? The hours they spend on the internet? The celebrity facts that they know? None of these leads to a rich life that satisfies. We are missing the sacred meaning to our lives because we are so busy working, making a living, keeping our home. Romans 12:2 in The Message translation says, “So here's what I want you to do: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for God. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what God wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Are we too in love with this present world? God is in the depth, but we only pay attention to the surface. God is in the silence, but we only pay attention to the noise. God is in contemplation, but we let distractions distract us. God is in the mystery, but we think that the only things that matter are the things that we can touch and can explain. God is in the love of others, but we only love ourselves. God is in the being still, but we run from one thing to another. We are squeezing God out, leaving the sacred behind. Our ancestors heard natural noise in their world, but we rarely hear the natural noise of our world. Instead, we hear artificial noise. In today’s world it is hard to develop the ability to listen for God, it is hard to hear God’s word and feel God’s love because hearing God requires hard soul work.
We live a superficial life, do you have something to live for?
Things that keep us from accepting God’s love and believing it:
1. External distractions of our lives and our world
2. Internal distractions inside ourselves
3. Upbringing – maybe we didn’t feel loved by our parents and we grew up feeling that we were not good enough to be loved. We don’t know what unconditional love looks like or feels like. Like the warning signs on your side mirrors in your car, God’s love is closer to us than it appears.
4. Afraid of silence. We fear light and how it might shine on us. We have complicity in cutting ourselves off from God. Luke 15 is a chapter of parables of lost things: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost (prodigal) son. The lost sheep parable reminds us of distractions. We are so distracted that we lose what is important to us (like the lost sheep). The lost coin parable reminds us how clutter can consume our lives. The woman couldn’t find what she valued because of the clutter in her home. The prodigal son is a parable about willful rebellion, internal attitudes and the choices that we make.
We can say yes to God’s yes to us!