Jesus: Modeling an Evolving Faith
While there are unhelpful and even harmful parts of what has passed for Christianity that we need to move beyond, I believe there are many good, beautiful, and true gems well worth saving—and living. (Sunday)
Jesus had the courage and clarity to sort out what was perennial wisdom from what was unreal, passing, merely cultural, or even destructive. (Monday)
Evolutionary thinking is actually contemplative thinking because it leaves the full field of the future in God’s hands and agrees to humbly hold the present with what it only tentatively knows for sure. Evolutionary thinking must agree to both knowing and not knowing, at the same time. (Tuesday)
Jesus’ first public word, metanoeite, referred to a primal change of mind, worldview, or way of processing and perceiving—and only by corollary about a specific change in behavior. This common misunderstanding puts the cart before the horse; we think we can change a few externals while our underlying worldview often remains narcissistic and self-referential. (Wednesday)
What would it mean for Christians to let Jesus and his message lead them to a new vision of God? What would it mean for Christians to understand, experience, and embody God as the loving, healing, reconciling Spirit in whom all creatures live, move, and have their being? —Brian McLaren (Thursday)
The New Testament shows history working in a way that is both evolutionary and positive. See, for example, Jesus’ many parables of the Kingdom, which lean heavily on the language of growth and development. (Friday)
Practice: Giving Yourself
Turning around, Jesus saw John the Baptist’s disciples following him and asked, “What do you want?” —John 1:38
Jesus stopped and called to the blind men: “What do you want me to do for you?” —Matthew 20:32
What do you want? What do you most deeply desire? Jesus was a master at helping people connect with their authentic longings. Sometimes that meant meeting a very practical or physical need, like hunger or pain. Sometimes that meant connection and acceptance. Our needs and dreams change over time. Every once in a while, it’s good to take stock and check if our day-to-day choices align with our values and goals.
Quaker author and elder Parker Palmer writes about his evolving perspective and priorities as he grows older:
Most older folks I know fret about unloading material goods they’ve collected over the years, stuff that was once useful to them but now prevents them from moving freely about their homes. There are precincts in our basement where a small child could get lost for hours.
But the junk I really need to jettison in my old age is psychological junk—such as longtime convictions about what gives my life meaning that no longer serve me well. For example, who will I be when I can no longer do the work that has been a primary source of identity for me for the past half century?
I won’t know the answer until I get there. But on my way to that day, I’ve found a question that’s already brought me a new sense of meaning. I no longer ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to hang on to?” Instead I ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to give myself to?”
The desire to “hang on” comes from a sense of scarcity and fear. The desire to “give myself” comes from a sense of abundance and generosity. That’s the kind of truth I want to wither into.
What do you want to let go of in the coming year?
What do you want to give yourself to?
What is keeping you from giving yourself fully?
Parker Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: 2018), 26-27.
For Further Study:
Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (Convergent: 2016)
Richard Rohr and others, “Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016)
Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2016)
Richard Rohr with Huston Smith and Allan Dwight Callahan, Portrait of a Radical: The Jesus Movement (Four Seasons Productions: 2000), DVD