11.30.2007

Being for others

OK, here's a good game. These paragraphs were written recently- just released today in fact. By whom?

How could the idea have developed that Jesus' message is narrowly individualistic and aimed only at each person singly? How did we arrive at this interpretation of the “salvation of the soul” as a flight from responsibility for the whole, and how did we come to conceive the Christian project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others? ...

In this sense it is true that anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Eph 2:12). Man's great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God who has loved us and who continues to love us “to the end,” until all “is accomplished” (cf. Jn 13:1 and 19:30). Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. ... Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”. ...

Yet now the question arises: are we not in this way falling back once again into an individualistic understanding of salvation, into hope for myself alone, which is not true hope since it forgets and overlooks others? Indeed we are not! Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). ...

While attending the Sunday liturgy at the port city of Hippo, [Augustine] was called out from the assembly by the Bishop and constrained to receive ordination for the exercise of the priestly ministry in that city. Looking back on that moment, he writes in his Confessions: “Terrified by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; but you forbade me and gave me strength, by saying: ‘Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died' (cf. 2 Cor 5:15)”.21 Christ died for all. To live for him means allowing oneself to be drawn into his being for others.

For Augustine this meant a totally new life. He once described his daily life in the following terms: “The turbulent have to be corrected, the faint-hearted cheered up, the weak supported; the Gospel's opponents need to be refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed to be liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved.” “The Gospel terrifies me”


Wow. "The Gospel terrifies me." When I reflect on the whole of what God is done, I agree with that statement- but does my life reflect that high view of salvation and Gospel calling? And Augustine's description of his 'totally new life'- are these the things I'm pursuing?

I haven't read the whole of the writings these paragraphs came from, this is just what I found at first glance. When the answer is guessed (or Googled, more probably), I'll put a link to the whole piece.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I won't spoil the game for others... I cheated and used google to find the answer. But I will give a hint: "cool hat."

While the trinity is a hard concept to grasp, it demonstrates beautifully that God has existed in perfect community with himself, since before we were even created. God has never been alone, because he has always had community within.

So when we receive salvation, we are automatically drawn into a community, even without considering any other part of creation. We are part of God's community, which he perfectly established before extending it to anyone else.

I appreciate Augustine's wide view of what should happen when this community meets the fallen creation. There seems to be an attraction to a blanket statement these days that we should just be kind, patient, and eager to listen to everyone we meet as the most proper expression of love. But Augustine also sees God's community invading creation as involving "the Gospel's opponents ... refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place".

By now I'm definitely on a tangent, but the Pyro blog just spotlighted some very interesting responses to Rob Bell's attack on "Bullhorn Guy" in his Nooma videos.

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