As we mature in our discipleship to Christ, our world should expand and grow larger too. As we grow spiritually, we will move into a larger sphere of reality while staying connected to our faith community and tradition.
Imagine living on a
and being part of a community that lives in one of the inlets. In that
community there are certain guidelines and boundaries necessary to sustain a
healthy community. In the community we form deep friendships. We provide and
receive services. But we are not confined to that community. We navigate on the
Great River and may be away for extended
periods of time, but we always come back to our community. Big River
We need our community, but think how limited life would be if we were confined to that inlet and never navigated the
Unfortunately, many Christians remain locked into their little communities and
faith traditions, never venturing out onto the Great River .
They get bogged down in meticulously defining life in their inlet community,
and are quite unaware and blind to the diversity and richness of life on the Great River .
I have no doubt that God abides with us in our small communities, but God is so much more. God’s Spirit pervades and permeates the
God engages the larger world at many points and on many levels. Only as we are
willing to risk and explore beyond our little inlet, do we become conscious of
the Divine Reality that is so much greater, larger, and diverse than we ever
imagined. Big River
What can we do to venture out on the
We could reach out in friendship to someone of a different faith tradition. We
could expand our understanding by reading books on world religions that focus
on their positive teachings and practices. We can ask God to open our minds and
hearts so that we can discern God’s presence in encounters, conversations,
actions, words, and experiences outside our Christian faith. We can become open
to the possibility that God’s Spirit takes on other forms and speaks through
other mediators than just through Jesus of Great River Nazareth.
In my earlier years I spent a great deal of time trying to get people to accept my doctrines, join my group, and think like me. Now I realize that God cannot be confined to a particular inlet, but is the Source of the
. Spiritual growth involves an
expanding consciousness and awareness of the issues that the God of the Great River
cares about: restorative justice, stewardship and care of the planet,
peacemaking, fairness, the dignity and worth of all persons, poverty,
oppression in all its forms, and systemic injustice and violence. And yes, God
cares about the details of our lives too. Such is the greatness and largeness
of God. Great River
If all our time and attention are invested in defining, defending, and declaring our group identity without a larger frame of reference, then our group loyalty can easily become group superiority and idolatry. Without the prophetic critique of a larger vision, we become blind to our sin, we become blind to our egocentricity and complicity in evil.
Christianity that does not move beyond the inlet, that does not venture out into the
, is usually
characterized by it exclusiveness and by what it is against. While Christianity
that swims in the sea of abundant grace and diversity, is much more inclusive
and known by what it is for. Great