Opposites Attract

magnets courtesy of physics.stackexchange.comIt is said that “opposites attract,” and while we notice that working well with magnets, we don’t always see that working out in marriages or other relationships where personalities and temperaments conflict and sometimes outright oppose each other. Many Christians also struggle with guilt over recurring personal problems such as anger, pride, or other behaviors that are not life-giving, believing that they have “failed” God by still struggling with a recurring issue. To me, this stems from a lack of understanding about what God expects from us, and I am willing to assert that it isn’t moral perfection. Rather, I see the problem as an inability to believe that God is willing to include us in his Triune life in spite of our imperfections.  As a result, we are quick to judge ourselves and others, and guess what? We never measure up. One aspect of this is our inability to see the validity of others’ experiences and preferences outside our own as well as a failure to develop our own ability to create unity within or without despite differences.

As an expression of “having the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16) and as proof that we have moved past milk to meatier (i.e., more challenging) practices, Christians should consider how Jesus created unity between seemingly contradictory aspects of himself. Franciscan friar Richard Rohr offers this summary of Jesus: “human yet divine, heavenly yet earthly, physical yet spiritual, a male body yet a female soul, killed yet alive, powerless yet powerful, victim yet victor, failure yet redeemer, marginalized yet central, singular yet everyone, incarnate yet cosmic, nailed yet liberated.”

This unity between paradoxical elements in our human experience is only possible by the Holy Spirit in us. This acceptance of reality as it is, whether the contradictions are within us or outside us, requires us to participate with the Spirit (even as Jesus did), and this participation is often fueled by contemplative practices like prayer and meditation. Jesus’s prayer for his followers was not that they would be morally perfect, but it was “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11, NIV). This oneness Jesus desired for each of us is not just relationally, though that is an important component, but also within our own hearts. Jesus is the Great Unifier, and by his life we can see that the unity he desires is both with other people and within our own hearts. By resting in our acceptance by God despite our imperfections and cultivating a contemplative awareness of the unifying Spirit within, opposites can attract and open our hearts to loving acceptance of ourselves and others.

~by Nan Kuhlman

photo courtesy of physics.stackexchange.com

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