Not a Child of God but an Adult of God...

"Many of us have treated the gospel as an object that can answer a deep-seated need (for acceptance, happiness, companionship, a clear conscience)" writes Peter Rollins, "and in so doing have approached Christianity in self-centered weakness, hoping that it will be the pill that will cure us..." (The Fidelity of Betrayal) This reminds me of the woman in Tucson who once said to me, "All of my life I've heard about being children of God. I want to know what it means to be an adult of God. A woman of God or a man of God. I'm tired of childish religion."

I've been exploring and thinking about her words - and Rollins insights, too - for quite a long time. There have clearly been times in my life when I was like a child and felt a deep dependence on a God I needed. At the same time, I have also been moved and fed by developing a connection with God that is not childish - in fact, too often our churches cultivate a weird dependency that leaves many spiritually malnourished if not spiritually deformed in a state perpetual childishness, yes?

The sensual Sufi, Rumi, put it like this:

There is a smile and a gentleness inside.
When I learned the name
and address of that, I went to where
you sell perfume. I begged you not
to trouble me so with longing. Come
out and play! Flirt more naturally.
Teach me how to kiss. On the ground
a spread blanket, flame that's caught
and burning well, cumin seeds browning,
I am inside all of this with my soul.


The apostle Paul put it like this I Corinthians 13: When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. Now we don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! So for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

And whoever wrote Ephesians 4 echoed Paul's wisdom, too: No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

So Rollins wonders if it is "possible to embrace God out of love and lightness of heart, out of a seduction that is caught up in the call of God rather than the need of God." That is, can an authentically adult relationship with God be nurtured that does not begin in emptiness but rather abundance? Joy instead of desperation? "Where the individual does not enter into the relationship out of need but out of love... and it is the presence of the other (not in the other's absence) that gives shape and form to a need... so the need is born rather than abolished."

Nobody gets this better than Leonard Cohen (ok... we can debate this) and his "Tower of Song" speaks to what it means to live as an adult child of God: it is fun, gentle, hip, honest, sensual, sad and hopeful all at the same time. (This version with U2 as his back up band is just too cool.)

Comments

delaferriere said…
oh how about this one:

O my Lord, if I worship You from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship You from hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your own sake, do not withhold from me Your Eternal Beauty.

-Rabia

more sufi wisdom!

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