Reformers and Resisters

Two of my favorite mentors from history are St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. They were contemplatives–and reformers. Contemporaries in the chaotic times of the 16th century.

The life of a reformer is always difficult. There is so much underlying resistance to change. Even if the flow of tradition is corrupt or based upon fallacies.

I often contemplate the lives of the early Christians.

They gathered together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Without that central fact, they had no religion, no hope.

But they were well known, in the times when it wouldn’t cost them their lives to be well known, as people who lived differently from the way society around them was arranged.

There was just something different, better, in the way they treated each other and their neighbors.

We, on the contrary, get so wrapped up in gathering with our kind and giving out names to others not our kind. Homosexuality just hit the headlines again. A significant group of people who call themselves Christians call these people sinners and outcasts.

Putting aside other arguments, let’s just pause a moment. To whom did Jesus minister? Whom did he love? Whom did he dine and party with?

Read the gospels and the answer is clear. Sinners and outcasts.

The irony would be amusing were it not so hurtful. For we are taught that everyone, even us within the organizations, are sinners. To try to classify two types of people sinners and us (implied not sinners) is simply wrong. We’re all caught in a trap. But we can get out. (Sorry Elvis.)

The spiritual discipline of worship (implied that you’d be gathering with your friends) must inevitably lead to the spiritual discipline of service–loving sinners and outcasts. Which is why I love mentors like John and Teresa.

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