As I write this today I am thinking about my own journey over the last 15 years. Up until 15 years ago my experience was one of being a conservative, moralistic christian. I was not good at contradictions and complexities. Everything was black and white and I was very good at telling people how to live their lives and what they should do. This has been my experience of most of fundamental christianity.
I was raised in a fundamental and moralistic religious group. They practised a doctrine of perfection that was presented as a carrot tied by string to the end of a stick. You could never quite achieve it, the rules kept changing and if you failed they hit you with the stick.
‘No one is ever quite pure enough, moral enough or holy enough or enough of an insider of the proper group’ (Rohr, Immortal Diamond).
We were kept very busy with the process of ‘sin management’ and indiscretions were used against us and to whip us into line. The high water line was obedience and woe betide any one who was found to be disobedient to the word of the elders.
In a moralisticly oriented religious group there are always clear outsiders to be kept clearly out-side. Hiding inside this false moral purity are things like slavery, sexism, the greed of Christian emperors…pedophilia…conquest and oppression’ (Rohr).
But thats another story for another day.
The good thing about following Jesus, spirit-based morality, is that you are not motivated by reward and punishment. You dont need to follow the rules, you do things because they are true, not because you are afraid of punishment.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
You follow Jesus because you are in love with him and because He helps you. He gives you the desire and the power to please Him. Its because you want to not because you will be punished by your community if you don’t.
I mention this for Meditation Monday because I am constantly concerned about the way some people still operate out of the ‘you are bad and we are good mentality’. This mind sets actually goes deeper because it alienates and cuts off anyone who does not line up to a moralistic view of Christianity. As Richard says in the above quote ‘there are clear outsiders to be kept clearly out-side’. My experience has been that this also relates to topics that we believe should not be discussed but kept clearly out-side. We are constantly drawing lines in the sand when Jesus asks us not to judge.
I think about the parable of the wheat and the weeds. This is the thought that I will leave you with to think about this week. Remember that the law does not give life, only the Spirit gives life.
Are we aware of the mixture of good and evil in our own lives?
“Jesus uses a number of mixture images that illustrate this tension…this world is a mixture of different things, and unless you learn how to see, you dont know to separate; you get lost in the weeds and can’t see the wheat. (Matt13:24-30).
We are not good at carrying or living with both the good and the bad. It is Jesus job to decided what is weed and what is wheat not ours. Both we and the world are a mixture of wheat and weed. That is the mystery.
“It takes a lot more patience, compassion, forgiveness, and love than aiming for some illusory perfection that is usually blind to its own faults. …it takes uncommon humility to carry the dark side of things and it takes courage to carry the good side too. The crucified one always hangs between these two theives – paying the price within himself just as we must do’( Rohr, p40 Everything Belongs).
Jesus forgives both theives. Do we?
Lets not be blind to the weeds and planks in our own lives and lets not judge what we perceive to be the weeds in others lives. Lets trust Jesus to do that and get on with what He asked us to do which was to love one another the same way that He has loved us. Unconditionally, graciously and with mercy.
We must ask ourselves, is our life an example of an encounter with a loving and caring God and are we growing the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness temperance, faith? Or is it spent deciding who can and who can’t participate and what is and what isn’t appropriate to do or talk about at Church? The Franciscans have a saying;
“Don’t expect a lot of freedom or permission from most religious people, but thank God, the gospel requires them to give you forgiveness.”
Selah – think on these things this week.
** Photos by Atilla Siah. You can follow Atilla’s amazing work at
The parable of the Wheat and the Weeds Matthew 13
Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr. The Search for our True Self.