Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Bird in Hand ...

Thomas Aquinas' in his book Summa states: "...[humanity] is directed to God as to an end that surpasses the grasp of [its] reason."

" ... a bird in hand is worth two in the bush ..." is the expression of belief in the context of passive faith. In spite of the revelation of God as faith being active in the dispersion of His gifts and provision to His Church and His people, there exists a propensity to hold to what seems certain and secure, rather than entering in to a seemingly ambiguous life however promissory that life. It presumes what is seemingly ambiguous is reality. It deflates faith and belief denying the existence of God, it makes an atheist out of a seemingly believer. It presumes that what is at hand is of greater value than what God has prepared and provided. It assumes that there is no greater than what is in the current possession of an individual. It screams - HOLD. It affirms the Malthusian framework of hoard and capture for personal life and gain.

This is reasonable. This is highly practical; pragmatic. Is this safe? Is this secure? Is this the life God calls us to live? It's the difference between what Aristotle called a "passive" and an "active" intellect. The passive intellect is defined by the way in which the various factors "limit each other and converge" on a decision.

The criterion for the passive decision is found in the psychological make-up of a person, the factors and environment which exist in past and present and are affective in forming the evaluative mechanisms of decision-making. The active decision views the opportunities and possibilities in light of the revelation of God and the immensity of His provision and His unlimited power and authority.

The crux is what Tillich claims is the 'centered' self.

Tillich, defines what "centered" means by implication, " ... by referring to perspectives which take in the various relevant considerations and impulses contributing to a contemplated action and evaluating them by means of a sense of self, including: one's goals, hopes, fears, needs, abilities, disabilities, and including one's sense of what life is about. The last is the crucial part--the sense of what life is about, (the ontological framework) ... if a person does not have that sense, then they have no overriding concept or sensibility by which the competing psychological factors contributing to a decision should be ordered."

We live in a world of polarized opinions and perspectives, one perspective represented by the pole of destiny, the existential framework, that psychological center lending itself to decisions based on safety, security, a bent towards abating fear and ambiguity. This is a position of enslavement, preferring the security of the known existence regardless of the inclination of the heart for the deeper expressions of life; the quest and realization of freedom. It is acquiescence to destiny and fate as predictable outcomes of the extension of our person; it is acceptance and contentedness with the value systems of this world and a passive concurrence to be satisfied with those values; it is acceptance of a norm of existence which refuses to move beyond reason and doubt and embrace the awe and wonder of God's provision and care; it is to consent to live life trusting in the things of this world, understanding and knowing they are not worthy of our heart. It is easier to live life with past failures holding life in check, than to step out again and chance that success will be achieved. It is easier to live life in the context of 'limiting factors' and therefore 'converge' on a decision, which, if not disabling of faith, at the very least, affirms a mistrust of the intentions and abilities of God.

This perspective is expressed in the following quote, "If we are fully human only in achieving a centered sense of self by which we transcend the various factors that motivate us as beings in the world, then never, ever, can we be fully human and identify the sense of self with any of the possible factors that can compete to determine us as an object rather than a self or person. ... we distort ourselves by elevating a contingent good into the center of the decision process where the contingencies should be evaluated, not determining the evaluation. ... how is it possible to have a sense of self that is definite enough to be the psychological center that gives meaning to our lives without that definite sense of self becoming a distorting, degrading, idolatrous "object of life" which prevents the active engagement of a human personhood as the determining center of our lives(?)"

If our understanding of our 'centered' self is viewed in the context of possession, prestige, power and influence than we are the 'objects' of our belief and faith. Belief and faith are no longer operative decision-making tools. The sum becomes the sum total of our existence. Belief and faith become accessories to life not the necessities of life. We are less the person for the effort, we have devalued our existence to that of only existing, " ... exchang(ing) the truth of God for the lie, and worship(ing) and serv(ing) the creature rather than the Creator, ... " We are denying God's existence and His right to be obeyed and glorified.

As we condescend to the thoughts and intents of the world, sacrificing the moral and spiritual aspects of our Christian life to obtain the temporal good life and not the eternal God-life, the reality of who we are in Christ Jesus acting as a free agent of the King of Kings is lost. Our individual sense, and subsequently our corporate identity, is never fully realized due to the nature of the imprisonment of our understanding of who we are as God's children. We reject the promises and exhortations of God to " ... present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. And not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Facing God with the choices and options before us as children of God, actively presenting our bodies, as they represent and embody the 'outward organ of the will', as an act of reasonable, rational and spiritual obedience, is the minimum requirement, containing the maximum reason. "How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no evil, ... Let the tongue utter nothing base, ... Let the hand work no sin, ... this suffices not, but besides we must actively exert ourselves for good; the hand giving alms, the mouth blessing them that curse us, the ear ever at leisure for listening to God" (Chrysostom).

"...[humanity] is directed to God as to an end that surpasses the grasp of [its] reason."

If only we understood the love of God.

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