Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God Comes To Us In Different Ways

This morning's Office of Readings included a section from St. Irenaeus. I was intrigued with his observation:

He who stands in need of no one gave communion with himself to those who need him. Like an architect he outlined the plan of salvation to those who sought to please him.... To those who were restless in the desert he gave a law perfectly suited to them. To those who entered the land of prosperity he gave a worthy inheritance. He killed the fatted calf for those who turned to him as Father, and clothed them with the finest garment. In so many ways he was training the human race to take part in the harmonious song of salvation.
....He kept calling them to what was primary by means of what was secondary, that is, through foreshadowings to the reality, through things of time to the things of eternity, through things of the flesh to the things of the Spirit, through earthly things to the heavenly things.

I am particularly aware of how different Christians understand and express their salvation. Some emphasize their "experience" while others are careful to give an explicit theological construct; still others speak of their sacramental foundation. Far too often Christians from differing traditions are not kind with each other simply because they do not hear familiar language. I am reminded of the fanciful story of the the two formerly blind men who had been healed by Jesus. Their paths crossed one day, and upon sharing their respective stories, got into an argument. You will remember, Jesus healed one merely by speaking the word whereas he used paste from dirt and spit applied to the other man's eyes. In their passionate confrontation with each other, each was persuaded it was not Jesus who had healed the other because he used a different form.

The Gospel tells us that one day the disciples saw someone who was not part of "their crowd" acting in Jesus' name. They were ready to call fire down on the outsiders. Jesus said, "If they are not against us, they are for us."

Let's be careful how we respond to others who, while using very different language of salvation, still proclaim Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, to be the Savior of the world.

No comments:

Site Meter