What we are given is more determinative of the outcome of our life than any influence we could have. What we have been given to work with never changes, the pile only grows. Outcomes are reached by the acceptance and rejection of all that is given. This claim does not mean we are powerless to change the reality of our life, but that when we feel powerless it is because of a failure of the imagination to see and take advantage of all the raw materials at our disposal.
Christians employ modern assumptions about the world to apply premodern beliefs and ways of life to a postmodern world and then wonder why the world rejects a message that embodies country more than Christ, self help more than new life, and defining the rules more than welcoming the neighbor, all the while asking people to join an institution that doesn’t know why it exists in a culture that prefers exciting and new over the way it’s always been.
The notion that religion and spirituality are at odds with one another because “religion is ritualistic” whereas “spirituality is about actual relationship with the divine” is just as absurd as saying that a relationship could possibly exist without the rituals of everyday life. The most significant and formative aspects of a relationship are often those things that are done every day without thinking and that give the background to the momentary experiences in which love is felt most concretely and most powerfully. Ritual is not enough for a relationship to last but the story ritual tells is the only context in which a true experience of love can take place.
Anselm called theology faith seeking understanding. This is a great way to get at the notion in which the stories we tell ourselves shape the understanding we are capable of coming to. Modern Christianity has turned faith into understanding seeking control. Seeking control is a great way to embody the incoherence at the heart of a faith that thinks Christians can rule the world while worshiping a God whose world changing plan was to give up control in the humiliation of the cross.
Relationship with Jesus should be more like a relationship and less like a pop quiz.
Truth is not relativistic; truth is relativtastic!
That truth can only be known in the midst of relationship does not consign us to the ever-changing whim and fancy of the day. That truth can only be known in the midst of relationship is a reminder that who we are is inseparable from the stories that wrote us and that finding coherence, acceptance, and joy in the stories in which we take part and apart from which we cannot conceive our own existence is necessary if we are to live abundantly.