I’m reading (quickly, I admit) Becoming the Answer to our Prayers (Claiborne & Hartgrove). I’m enjoying most of it, struggling on some things they mention, but all in all find myself in gentle agreement.
Here’s a quote I want to share:
“The way of Jesus is not a proposal for how to take over the nation-state and make it Christian. It is, rather, a lesson in learning not to take over – to be a community where we find a new way of life by giving ourselves for others” (p.30).
Well put, I think. The life of submission yet not being a walked-over-rug is a hard one to step into and to be balanced in. It seems like a constant wavering between being stepped on and being in charge. …there is a middle way.
About the book’s title: I do think that there’s truth to what the title suggests, that Christianity is an active life and not a life of trying to make God into a personal wish granting genie. However, taken to the unintended (I assume)extreme, becoming the answer to our prayers can quickly erase God from the picture and we become immersed in our personal God-projects and railroad our ideas and make things happen that may or may not have much to do with God. These can even seem like really nice things, but still absent of God and the Way of Jesus.
This takes me to prayer. Prayer is active and passive, like the book suggests, and they’re not exclusive or fighting one another – they’re intended to be a lifestyle together in tandem. We become most actively human only after being passive with God, listeners; we become most passively human only by then being able to express God-life through our ordinary selves in an active way.
I suppose me writing this is a slight betrayal of my struggle between active and passive spirituality – that I struggle about balance. Maybe we all do.
My take away from the book: God calls us to be with him in order that we might be with others. We need God’s presence, Word, and time because in that connection together we are formed to become like Jesus. Like Henri Nouwen puts it: wholeness begins in solitude with God, collects us together in community, and then expresses itself in a life of mission with others.
And for Jesus? What did he do? That’s for us to be immersed in through Scripture. I need that constant immersion, scripture, prayer, scripture, prayer…
May God shape me.