And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.Luke 18:9-14
I have been thinking about Jacob wrestling with God. I have been struck by two things:
- Jacob is alone (24). He leaves behind family, position, and possession. He is alone with God, alone before God.
- Jacob is changed by the wrestle. The stranger touches him and changes him – physically (with his “thigh”) and spiritually (by giving him a new name). Jacob does not stand far off and reflect – he engages and physically struggles with God – sweat and pain! “The Strange” is not an object but a person.
I think the story is a great example of what it means to be a Christian in a modern context. SO …
I need to be alone before God, wrestle with God, and that will change me.
22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peni′el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”
The previous post made me think. Is life a little like a bus? We are put on the side of the road and told that we must catch the bus. “Don’t miss the bus!”
Some people take the first bus that comes along and then passively sit looking at the scenery. They love the colour, the hills, the city – the world as it flashes past them and they sit in the safety of the bus. They are simply along for the ride.
Others stand and wait for the right bus – the one that goes to the right destination. But once they are on they too passively sit and watch the scenery. They feel some satisfaction in the believe that they are going to the right place. “The bus will get me there”, they say, “I trust in the bus”.
And a very small group of people simply refuse to take the bus. They walk!
Via Existential Comics on Twitter:
I dislike the divide in Christianity of liberal, progressive, charismatic, pentecostal, conservative, traditionalist, etc. (Basically because I do not understand them.) Any group thinks it is the future by bringing the past into the present. But in the end are they all just interpretations? And so a party needs to come to power to have its worldview become dominate?
So the takeaway for me: it is not about belonging to a particular group or party! It is about being authentic in everything I do and say.
I was thinking about this quote today:
Kant was an interesting individual. Yet the above is, I think, a sound principle. I know that I have often felt like a “means to an end” for people – which, alas, I have allowed myself to be so the fault lies with me. And, I cannot control others but only myself.
So for today’s reflection:
DO I use people for the sole purpose of achieving something else?
I think Kierkegaard would be horrifed if he knew that a person two hundred years after his birth was writing about him on the internet. The totality of Kierkegaard’s philosophical thought is that one must find the answer that is true for me by acting upon it. (I am no philosopher so tell me if I am mistaken!) I always feel like I am simply adding to the “idle chatter” that is social media.
But I found this article interesting: Is Kierkegaard Still Relevant Today? As an aside, we used to live in a very small country town, hours from anywhere. The local shops stocked Philosophy Now while our suburban middle class shops only do lotto tickets and the like. Different market?!
Anyway, the article finishes with this paragraph:
Kierkegaard does not present us with absolute, objective truths, but challenges us to discover subjective truths for ourselves. He proposes to encourage us to become independent: “The phrase ‘know yourself’ means: separate yourself from the other” (The Concept of Irony, 1841, trans H.V. Hong and E.H. Hong, p.177, 1989). In the end, what Kierkegaard does is dare us to live, by choosing how we live, and by taking responsibility for our lives. Can we rise to his expectations?
I really like the quote: “separate yourself from the other”. No sense running with the crowd going in the wrong direction. But for me it has further implications. I do not speak on behalf of a school of thought, a religious party, or a political movement. I have no authority other than that of speaking for me. And I am the only person responsible for my actions (and speech). That does not mean that “truth” does not exist or is created by me. It simply means that I cannot hang on to the shirt-tails of a movement and except to go in the right direction for me.
I have become more aware that I am simply hiding in the crowd to avoid facing myself. Other people can journey with you but they cannot journey for you.
So maybe the post should really be called “me today”?
Soren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity, writes,
The established order desires to be totalitarian, recognising nothing over it, but having under it every individual.
I sometimes wonder if some modern institutions are not more cult than organisation?!
Moral of the story: join groups but do not let them rob you of your individuality.