The Art of Contemplation
Beyond religion is the call of Christ to follow, to imitate, to abide. None of these things can be relegated to the category of public religion. They border on the lands of piety but go well beyond. These assume a public commitment to some end.
In other words, following and abiding in Christ in some ways makes us a better citizen, a better sibling, a better employee, a more considerate citizen, etc. It’s impossible for our personal, spiritual commitment to not “leak” int our lives.
That’s why I love how Jesus phrased things. And a ton of “missional churches” are trying so hard to put discipleship into their core strategy. However noble, there is simply a major part of discipleship that can NOT be done in a charted course.
*It assumes far more of the individual. It assumes ultimately everything. This is where contemplation begins to make sense. It is that bit beyond the scope of religion that is essential to “bear the fruit” of what religion is really all about growing.
Contemplation is gazing upon life with a completely different perspective. It refuses to see the cause and effect casuistry of cursed, murphy’s law thinking. It will not submit that this is all there is and that we are merely to find our place in the system.
Contemplation opens the door to another whole world, one without limits, a world where God is able AND willing. It flies in the face of the anxiety tied to bottom-line economic thinking. It pulls the gaze off only oneself and one’s potential sufferings.
Contemplation invites us to change our focus onto the one Who makes all things new. It’s invitation keeps us from believing lies. We are removed from the scarcity of futile thinking and reminded again and again that our Master owns the hills.
Contemplation is the feast in the presence of my enemies (the lies that cause people toward anxiety). It is the green pastures He makes me lie. It is remembering that I am not God, but I know Who is. It is ultimate freedom from and freedom to.
Ultimately contemplation is the freedom “to” enjoy. Fear, worry, anxiety, guilt, all these negative emotions are so strong and de-enabling. They lock us inside ourselves and outside our ability to enjoy, that is live in joy and freedom.
They keep us at bay, at a great distance from that place of truth. They speak overwhelming lies in code of truth: constant half-truths and slight of truths that keep us buried in powerlessness. We have to call them out in violence.
They will kill us. Lies are aggressively there to steal, kill, and destroy. They will leave nothing of our soul or humanity. They deteriorate our sense of joy and freedom. They replace them with the restrictive layers of guilt and obligation.
“Stuck-ness” is not something to mess with. Some will see no correlation with their inner freedom and their outer commitments. They are connected. Someday our outer life will reflect our inner one. But it starts with the inner world. Always.