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Embracing Mystery: Not Your House At All

Reflections from Our Pastors

   In a book we’re using in our small groups you can join, Richard Rohr begins: “To pray is to build your own house. To pray is to discover that Someone else is within your house. To pray is to recognize that it is not your house at all.”

I love that – and it fits Ephesians so well: “God chose us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (chapter 1, verses 4 thru 6).

We get confused about God “choosing.” God chooses some – but not others? Paul’s clear message is: God has chosen you. And then we think about choices we make, as if you choose which cereal among many in the store to guy, or the bachelor choosing which bachelorette pleases him. Ephesians does this over and over: you aren’t on the outside looking in with God. You don’t have to go find God and get God. You can be confused or even uninterested. God chose you. God is in you. You build the house of your life – and grace is discovering God is there. And joy of all joys: it’s not your house, but God’s.

Want to know how amazing you are? God chose you “before the foundation of the world.” That’s right: when God thought, Let’s make a universe with galaxies and nebulae! God also thought of you, God decided you would be you. And for the noblest conceivable purpose: that you would live with God’s Spirit in you. Go outside tonight. Gaze up into the heavens. Billions of years ago, when God imagined the vast cosmos, God was already making plans for you. As they say to one another to begin worship at our partner church, South Tryon, “Neighbor, I love you with the love of the Lord; and there is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

Notice part of God’s plan is that you – and the other people too! – will be “blameless.” Not that you won’t do dumb, self-indulgent, hurtful or embarrassing thing. But in our world where “blame” must always be assigned, or felt, God’s vision is that you won’t blame others, or yourself. And you don’t need to. You’re already blameless (as is the other guy) because of “grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Jesus, God come down, lived our life and died for us, taking all judgment and blame on his holy heart. You’re free. You needn’t waste your energy assigning, or feeling blame.

For you have been adopted, not just born, into God’s home. Scripture’s deep wisdom: natural birth can just happen. You don’t choose your parents. You don’t choose how your kids turn out! But adoption is a choice, a decision that my home and heart are large enough to welcome and love somebody. God did this. The home you’re in? It’s not yours at all, but God’s.

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