Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Faith as transformational, not transactional

“Only love that continues to flow in the face of anger, blame, and indifference can be called love. All else is simply a transaction.”
                                          Vironika Tugaleva, The Love Mindset

[Faith] should never be merely transactional -it should be transformational
                                          Rasheed Ogunlaru, Soul Trader

We do not have a quid pro quo

That is just not the way the Sacred works

Oh, I know
There is all that covenant stuff
“I will be your God, you shall be my people”
“Thou shalt have no other God!”
“If you obey the Lord, you will be Blessed” (all that stuff in Leviticus and Deuteronomy)

But still

I think that is on us
That is where we go
It has to be a transaction
In order for God to love me, I have to earn it
In order for God to give to me, I have to earn it

That is how our human brains work
We think God thinks the way we think
We think God behaves the way we behave

And so we create (as Anne Lamott said) God in our own image

And we are profoundly and terrible transactional
There it is
Quid pro quo
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours
You worship me, I’ll give you what you want

If God is transactional
Then God is really poor at math

Because if you look at how Sacred works?
It is not transactional
It is transformational

God creating the world we live in
          (An act of amazing generosity)
God sustaining
          (while we systematically destroy)
God emptying
          (while we are grabbing and grasping)
God coming down to the lowest level to serve
          (while we climb up, on other people’s backs)
God forgiving
          (while we wallow in resentment and retribution)
God reconciling
          (while we are soaked in enmity)

This is not a transactional story
This is not, primarily, quid pro quo

This is a love story
This is a grace story

This is Sacred
Working through creation
Working through Jesus
Working through the Spirit

To transform us
To make us compassionate
And generous

When we respond to love
We love God
And Love others
And even love ourselves

That is what transformation does!
It makes us new
It makes us people who don’t have to be transactional
In the way we are with God

We don’t have to be fearful
Worried that if we don’t “do it right”
Or have the right”theology”
Or mutter and utter the right “formula”
God will hate us, reject us
And torment us for all eternity

We don’t have to be transactional
In the way we are with others

We don’t have to demand that people become like us
Before we accept them
We don’t have to demand they look and think like us
Before we welcome them
We don’t’ have to demand they somehow meet a definition of “deserving”
Before we feed them
Clothe them
House them

Even as I walk down this path
I can hear the clamoring in my own head and heart
“Yes, but….”

I can feel my soul clawing its way back toward merit theology
Because that is how I have been programmed
By the world
By the church

And yet
The manger
And yet
The cross
And yet

And that chance
To begin again
And experience God’s new thing
That comes
Not just at the beginning of every New Year
But at the beginning of every new day

That comes
Every moment

I breathe in
Breathe out

In the end there is only God
There is only Love

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