Posts Tagged ‘Selfishness’

Two Faced. Who Me?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Two faced.  Who me? Yes you.  And me.

The human condition always presents a mixed bag.  As a private school administrator, I took a group of secondary school males on an overnight to a local camp.  We invited a World War II vet and a recovering drug addict in to speak to the boys on courage.  Their presentations were remarkable.  Within hours however all that was forgotten as the police brought brought a number of boys to camp after they had  decided on a late night streaking excursion through a neighboring housing development.  Two faced, blessed and broken, saints and sinners.

The “sinner” part of us is driven by compulsions.  As New Church theology phrases it, that part grows from a desperate love anchored to the urges of selfishness and materialism.  From that place, we easily rationalize any number of misguided behaviors, remaining wholly convinced that such a life is the only life, and that if we lose it we face obliteration. (Secrets of Heaven, #1740)

But there is another place – the “saint” – in us as well, a place settled beneath the compulsions of the outer man, a place deeply and eternally connected with God.  For humanity, “… our inner self is the Lord’s possession, and so far as anything of their own (ego) does not get in way …. their inner self belongs to God and in fact is God.”  (Secrets of Heaven, #1745)

So the way out of it is simply  a letting go.  As the author Anne Voscamp phrased it, “the most freeing place for a soul is in the abandonment to the will of God.”


Reminding Ourselves a Million Times – It is NOT about us

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Just finished, “Who Stole My Church?” An autobiographic account written by Gordon MacDonald, it traces his congregation’s journey through change. The core change, as is true for churches (and lives) is the flip from it being about “us” to being about “them.”

A blessing of starting a new church, i.e. NewChurch LIVE, is that we never had a multi-generational culture to work through.  Our efforts – creating from the bottom up.   Simply put, no one within NCL thankfully ever said, “But that is not the way we did it.”  However that does not mean that we won’t face those issues in the future.  Someone will eventually say those very words!  (and it may be me in which case re-send me this blog:))

We received this email yesterday from New Mexico.   It reads ….

First, we would like to thank you for making your services available to us online.  They have led to much understanding and growth for us personally and inspired us to want to share the same type of services with our community.

We are trying to grow our shrinking New Church Circle in Albuquerque, NM.  We are in need of materials.  Our current plan for 2012-2013 is to project New Church Live Services and the wonderful music of your band to see if we can get more people involved.

The email on went to outline the ways in which they hope to leverage our services online.  See right there folks is a need.  It is a need beyond “us.”  It is about “them.”   It is about sharing a language as we seek to find ways to humbly take part in a reinvention of “church” for a new generation.   A wonderful world of promise!  And here is the caution, as Emanuel Swedenborg phrased it, about what creates detours on that journey.

“When we adopt our own welfare as the goal, God cannot be present.  Our self-absorbtion pushes Him away [as] we deflect and divert to ourselves the common good of society, the common good of the church, and even the Lord’s kingdom, treating them as if they exist for our own sake.”  (Heavenly Secrets 1316) 

That journey to the common good then takes patience and self-sacrifice.  We need to be willing to give to it – our time, talent, and treasure.  But don’t question the need.  At the Ronald McDonald House two nights ago I met a volunteer named Jeff, a man who lost a daughter to cancer at age 6.  He leaned across the counter with an unsettling certaintude, looked me in the eye, and said, ” We need more churches like NewChurch LIVE.”  If we can keep from letting that turn us back into a concern just about us, we will really be able to serve the world.  The tide has not come in yet.  But keep focused and keep clear about that this is all about.  Keep pointed to the “other.”