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Monday, June 24, 2013

Acceptance of the World

Do not be anxious to change the world.  Many people have tried, and look what has happened: you have the present, and almost nobody is happy with it.

When we dream about changing the world, we are expressing our own dissatisfaction with it, and thus our rejection and disdain for it.  Can you really change something you hate?  Not really.  What you really want to do is kill it.  We want to destroy the world to build one of our own liking.

But the world was made with love, even as badly as it has been distorted.  In fact, most of the evil we experience is based on some kind of loving thoughts, ones that embraced a better world and less suffering.  Popular revolutionaries and political activists often speak of a better world right before arresting the opposition and oppressing the non-compliant.  Many of the jaded professionals we encounter were once hopeful idealists.

So, the misguided love of the world... can our anger and intolerance fix it?  No.  The world needs love, and to love means to accept things as they are and to admit that the world, even the smallest bits of it apart from the self, are really out of reach.

A single school in a small town cannot guarantee that all of its students will master their subjects, yet you want everyone to understand and agree to your plans?

The best we can hope for is a little room for our ideas and perhaps a gentle nudge of society into a better direction, but great acts of social change cannot be controlled by a single human or even a well-organized cabal.  The cart quickly overturns.  We are seeing this now throughout the world as men seek to literally control every opinion and action.

To love is to accept things as they are, calling the good as good and the bad as bad, and not needing to change them in order to accept them.  The truth is you can only change yourself, and even there we have limits because we were all made in certain ways and some things were not made to change.

We must accept the world as it is and love it as it is and stop stirring up our dissatisfaction with it.  Love for the world does not mean following its direction, but rather having the freedom not only to be ourselves but to allow the world and those in it the freedom to do the same.  Sure, the world has plenty of problems, but so do I.  Who will fix my problems while I am busy fixing everyone else's?

If the world must repent, then I must repent first.  If the world must change, then I must change first.  I must be an example of what I desire for the world.  I must also embrace the idea that what I desire that is good is not forced upon me.  God does not compel me to follow Him, and He gives me plenty of opportunities to do my own thing.  Should we not likewise treat the world and those in it the same way?

We change the world with mercy for it.  We change the people in the world by loving them rather than forcing them to change or to fight with us.

When you demand change, then you have lost your peace.  And when you lose your peace, then you have lost everything because you are away from the King of Peace.  Instead of being dissatisfied and demanding change, have mercy and seek to heal those who ask for help.  The key here is to wait for the invitation.

The world may never ask you how to change.  Do not worry.  You will have lots to do working on just yourself.

The world must die, but to be reborn.  This means that only God can end it.  As well He should: it is a mess.  It cannot be fixed with plans and politics.  To repair the world only means to keep it limping along as a broken and dysfunctional existence.

Man cannot build paradise.  He never has.  He is good at building fortresses and prisons.  That is inevitably what we end up with when we try to fix our world.

The fallen man builds inner prisons and fortresses, those high walls of the soul that keep God out while defending against the pain of brokenness and sin.  This is what we should be concerned about.

If we were more concerned about those inner walls and sought to tear them down, then we would have more compassion for the world.  We would be able to love the people in the world and creation itself with the love that we have been shown by the God who loves us even in our rebellion and sin.

Acceptance means to love the truth about something.  And, all truth comes from God, who is Truth.

Do not hate the world or those who are in it.  Remember what they are intended to be and are becoming.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this, and all your posts that cut to the heart of things. This one reminds me of a poem:


    My work is loving the world.
    Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
    equal seekers of sweetness.
    Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
    Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

    Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
    Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
    keep my mind on what matters,
    which is my work,

    which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
    The phoebe, the delphinium.
    The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
    Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

    which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
    and these body-clothes,
    a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
    to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
    telling them all, over and over, how it is
    that we live forever.

    ~ Mary Oliver, born in 1935, American poet