Eight Sentences on the Human Condition

Model PrayerSome lines from the Gospels just jump out at you. I picked these eight sentences because they are reflective of what we are all experiencing in our relationship with God. These lines are the cry of humanity to the Trinity:

 1. Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8) God’s self-revelation is not, to begin with, a pleasant or hopeful experience. There is a burden, a heaviness, about God’s presence which C.S. Lewis sometimes called “the weight of glory.”

2. Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:32) We are really quite dysfunctional in our relationship with God – we are constantly yo-yoing between “go away!” and “why aren’t you here?”

3. I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Is there any more profound statement of what it means to try to live a life of faith? We cannot do it, we can only open ourselves to let the Holy Spirit share with us the faith of Jesus – the faith he has in his Father’s goodness

4. Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68) Even when we don’t understand what is happening or what God is trying to tell us, we can, at least, know that we are trusting the right one when we are trusting Jesus.

5. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) This is the great cry of humanity – both believers and non-believers alike. For every one of us the day will come when these words are squeezed out of us by the crush of suffering. It is no accident that Jesus himself offers these words up to God on our behalf.

6. My Lord and My God! (John 20:28) What else can we say when we see life conquer death, destruction turned into resurrection, and despair rising again as joy?

7. Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you. (John 21:17) Eventually doubt and faith, life and death, suffering and resurrection, all become the Father’s hidden and surprising ways of bringing us fully into the life she shares with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

8. We recognized him in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:35) And so, whenever we break the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the struggle of our faith and the faithfulness of the one who has given himself fully to us.

~ Jonathan Stepp

2 comments so far

  1. Nan Kuhlman on

    Jonathan, this post is exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately – the paradox (or duality) that we often find in ourselves, our lives, and especially in our relationship with God (as you’ve aptly pointed out). This morning’s devotional I received from Richard Rohr shares insight about how we handle this: “…only Spirit can hold and absorb the seeming contradictions and allow us to see and to know from an utterly new and unitive vantage point, which is the deepening fruit of contemplation. Only Spirit-in-us can know non-dually or paradoxically and absorb contradictions—inside of and with God. Only God’s Spirit-with-us can fully forgive, accept, and allow reality to be what it is. Neither logic nor law can fully achieve this, but participation with and in God can.”

    I think that we Christians tend to believe that we must completely understand and reconcile contradictions in scripture and other areas, and the best news of all is that as we participate with the Holy Spirit in thinking about these contradictions, we find ourselves expanding and able to hold them as they are, not desiring them to be any different and not desiring to “fix” them.

  2. Jonathan Stepp on

    I couldn’t agree more, Nan – trying to fix these sort of things only leads to needless frustration.

    And by the way, isn’t Richard Rohr a good writer? He’s very popular in the parish where I’m serving now.

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