Paul: Week 2
Summary: Sunday, March 13-Friday, March 18, 2016
“Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” —Romans 8:39, The Message (Sunday)
You and I exist inside of love, and occasionally we realize it and live out of our deepest purpose and identity. (Monday)
For Paul, agape love is the Great Love that is larger than you. It is the Great Self, the God Self. It’s not something you do. It’s something that you learn to live inside of even while you already participate in it. (Tuesday)
Paul talks about love not as simply an isolated virtue, but as the basis for all virtue. It is the underlying, generous energy that gives itself away through those living inside of love. (Wednesday)
It takes all of us a long time to move from power to weakness, from glib certitude to vulnerability, from meritocracy to the ocean of grace. (Thursday)
Both Jesus and Paul knew that rules and requirements were just to get you seriously engaged with the need for grace and mercy; they were never an end in themselves (read Romans 7:7ff). (Friday)
Practice: Staying Open
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7, NASB
This love—whose source is God’s very self—is an open-heartedness. You can tell when you’re in that space, and once you get it, you’re not satisfied with anything less. When you’re in that open-hearted space, your energy flows out. When you’re not in that space, your energy sucks inward. It’s all about who did me wrong and why I don’t like “those people.” Any time you feel like you deserve something, it’s an indication you may be hoarding love rather than letting it come and go freely.
True spirituality is about keeping your heart space open. It is daily, constant work. The temptation is to close down: to judge and dismiss and hate and fear. If you don’t have some spiritual practice that keeps your heart open, even in the midst of suffering and “hell,” it’s easy to end up grumpy and filled with fear and negativity. You have to work to live in love, to have a generosity of spirit, a readiness to smile, a willingness to serve. Regularly check in with yourself, asking, “Is my heart open? Is love flowing from me? Or am I constricted?”
For some reason, much of our American culture seems to have been sucked into a world of un-love, just the opposite of what Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 13. We seem prone to feeling entitled and to blaming and projecting our negativity on others. Never has there been a people on this earth who have so much; yet we complain about how little we have! We live some of the easiest lives of anyone in history or in the present, but still it isn’t enough. It’s as if we’ve been blinded by an illusion, or delusion, of scarcity. But love is all about abundance! We need an awakening like Paul’s conversion experience where the scales fell from his eyes and he was finally able to see the Really Real.
A consistent, chosen spiritual practice like contemplation gradually allows such an awakening. By daily practicing “a long, loving look at the real,” sooner or later, you fall into the Real, into Love; and then you live your life from that Source. And this Source is infinite. Once you plug into Love and stay connected, you’ll find the energy always flows out; it’s never sucking in. Living in God’s abundance—in this diffusive, excessive, infinite Love—you find you always have plenty to share.
Love is a choice. You have to choose to be loving. You have to deliberately, consciously, intentionally choose to stay connected through your practice to the Source of Love, which is the heart of God.
Gateway to Silence:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Most Profound Chapter in the Bible,” https://cac.org/the-most-profound-chapter-in-the-bible/;
and “Introduction to the 2016 Daily Meditations,” https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/.