Michael Daly CJ Blog

A Companion of Jesus

Changing Our Minds – Thoughts of Richard Rohr OFM

 

People who are in early stage religion usually love the “two steps backward” quotes in the Bible. They seem to be drawn toward anything that’s punitive, shame-based, exclusionary of “wrong” people, or anything that justifies the status quo, which just happens to be keeping them on top socially, economically, and religiously. They start by thinking that’s what religion is about–maintaining order and social control. They see God as a glorified Miss Manners.

Once you idealize power and being at the top, you tend to emphasize the almighty, all-powerful nature of God, who is made into the Great Policeman in the sky to keep us all under control (or at least everybody else under control!). Frankly, you are totally unprepared for Jesus. He is a scandal and a disappointment.

Now you see how revolutionary God’s “new idea,” revealed in Jesus, really is. Suddenly we have a God who is anything but a police officer. This God finds grace for those who break the law and finds life and freedom among the lepers and the sinners who do not have good manners. This is now an upside down universe (Acts 17:6). I am sad to say most Christians have yet to participate in this Divine Revolution.

Mature religious people, that is, those who develop an actual inner life of prayer and outer life of service, tend to notice and imitate the “three steps forward” quotes in the Bible. First they change their life stance, and then they can be entrusted with the Bible. For all others who will not change their idealization of dominative power, the Bible is merely used as self-serving information and ammunition against others. It actually would be better if we did not read the Bible until we undergo a conversion.

Only converted people, who are in union with both the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible–with the right pair of eyes and the appropriate bias, which is from the side of powerlessness and suffering instead of the side of power and control. This is foundational and essential conversion. The Greek word metanoia, poorly translated as “repent” in the Bible (Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:15), quite literally means “to change your mind.” Until the mind changes the very way it processes the moment, nothing changes long term. “Be transformed by a renewal of your mind,” Paul says (Romans 12:2), which hopefully will allow the heart to soon follow.

Richard Rohr OFM

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April 10, 2016 - Posted by | Thoughts

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