We are wired in such a way that we find our greatest joy when we become a blessing to others. We are created in God’s image. We are stamped with divine DNA. And because God indwells us, because we share in the divine life and divine nature, we will never find true happiness apart from consciously living out of our oneness with God. We are at our best, and we are most joyous and fulfilled, when we allow God’s Spirit to flow through us – when we allow God’s love to fill our lives and overflow into the lives of others. When we bless others, we bless ourselves, because we are doing what we have been created and called to do. Whatever happiness we may have as a result of self-serving actions is always fleeting and temporary. And once it runs its course it leaves us feeling empty, because it’s not real happiness. It doesn’t reflect who we really are. Repentance then, is a realigning of our actions and attitudes and desires with who we really are as God’s children and that brings joy.
The Shawshank Redemption is at the top of my all-time great movies list. It is pervaded with great lines and rich spiritual symbolism. The warden, Samuel Norton, is an icon of toxic Christianity. When Andy and the other prisoners make their first appearance before the warden, immediately the warden’s self-righteousness dominates the scene. He has one of the prisoners beaten for asking, “When do we eat?” Holding a Bible, he tells the prisoners, “Trust in the Lord, but your ass is mine.” The warden presents himself as a socially respectable, church-going, Bible-quoting Christian. But it’s clear from the beginning of his appearance in the story that his Christianity is in name only. In one scene, the warden enters Andy’s cell. He takes Andy’s Bible as Andy and the warden quote Scripture verses back and forth. He does not open the Bible, which is good since the rock hammer Andy uses to tunnel through the cell wall is hidden inside. When he hands the Bible back to Andy he says, “Salva
This is the first of several instances in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus confronts and expels an unclean spirit or spirits, also called demons. In the world of Jesus and other cultures, both then and even today, it was and is assumed that spirits, both good and bad, share this world with humans, and these spirits can take possession of human beings. I’m not sure how a modern day psychiatrists might describe or diagnose such a condition today. I suppose that in light of their training they would describe it in psychopathological terms. If you ask me what I believe about the existence of spirits in our world separate from humans I would say, “I am skeptical, but open to the possibility. Just because I have never encountered the phenomena does not mean they don’t exist.” But let me stress that a passage like this should not be read literally, but spiritually, that is metaphorically and symbolically. This is a religious text, and therefore should be read spiritually, not literally or historic