Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seeing Ourselves Clearly--by Linden Malki

"Pure" is one of the most powerful words out there. Everybody claims to want pure water, pure air, pure food, pure this, pure that. What do we mean by "pure?" That something is exactly, truly what it says it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

On the other hand, we tolerate a lot that isn't pure. Like the Peanuts cartoon where Linus reads a label and says "I'm not eating this. It's full of ingredients!" Pull a package at random off of your pantry shelf and see what's really in there; it can be scary. There are things that appear to be just what they say they are, but you could be surprised at the things that have little or none of whatever it wants you to think that it is. I found one label that listed a dozen possible ingredients it doesn't have, implying that their competitors' products have all this other stuff. Being curious about a cleaning product (which usually doesn't list its ingredients), I checked out the manufacturer's website, and discovered that the aerosol spray version, with the same product name, has totally different ingredients than the original liquid product. And that's part of the world we live in--most of the stuff in our lives are some sort of "products", all full of unknown ingredients.

What about us? How do we label ourselves, and how true is the label? What do we think is down there in our heart of hearts? "..God understands that part of us which is more than we think we are. A real problem for most of us is that this "more than we think we are" is not necessarily recognized as good. It is difficult for most of us to recognize, accept, and affirm those large areas of ourselves which are not compatible with the image of ourselves we would like to project, or which the world has taught we ought to project. Jesus was very clear about these projections, referring to those who projected them as 'whited sepulchres, clean and white without and full of dead bones and decay within'. ... But this is no suprise for the Christian. Two thousand years ago Paul of Tarsus admitted quite openly that the things he wanted to do were the very things he didn't do, and the things he didn't want to do were the very things he did. And yet Paul did not despair, nor drop out. ... when God took him by the scruff of the neck and shook him, he was able to let go, to let go of himself and his control of himself, and instead trust God, and experience a total reversal of his life." (Madeine L'Engle, Walking on Water).

Jesus said that the pure in spirit would see God. This works both ways: when we look at God, we see both what we are and what He has made us to be. It is the light of God that shines through us and shows up all the impurities. The best way to recognise the wrong ingredients is to let Him show us the right ones, and to understand how the other stuff leaves ugly dregs in the bottom of our glass. And the clearer and less clouded our spirit is, the better we can see God.

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