The Amused Eye
There are two big challenges in religion. One is to believe
it through grace. The other is to have a right sense of
proportion about it when you do believe it. Religion should
not make you ridiculous or you make religion ridiculous. There
should be a dignity in believing and a dignity from belief.
Many who have religion have so much religion they become
fanatic zealots unbalanced by excessive enthusiasm. Others have
too little religion so tend to become materialistic and
insensitive to others. Others take the rules of religion
and do not understand where or how to apply them. They lack
that certain delicacy of touch that a spiritual relationship
gives and that a relationship with Christ ought to.
I have seen religious people who became so ugly over the
amorality and immorality of non-religious people that it
was difficult to discern the uglier of the two groups.
If practicing religion makes you uglier than not practicing
it, why practice it? However, it is true some selectively
use sections of religious creeds as vehicles to express
unstable moods that are bothering them with strange
obsessions. This should be recognized as being sick.
Faith has a whole and healthy mind under the power
of God’s grace as in (I John 4: 7-21).
I have often wondered when I find religious people
who are meaner than non-religious people just why they are
that way. There are those, you know, behind the banner
of Christ but seeming to have precious little of His
Spirit. I attribute this fifth column of mean Christians to
people having joined a visible society with no
understanding of the invisible clouds of witnesses that,
as the Apostle said, hover around us. These are people
who have not met Christ in any degree but suffer the (my) full
degrees of separation from higher union with God.
Dante, in his “INFERNO” gave hell nine rungs of misery. I think
of separation from Christ as coming in twelve steps or degrees.
It is figurative allusive imagery and not to be taken literally
by ones lacking imagination. Personally I tend to define steps
of grace away from God, or the degrees of separation from God,
lacking in the individuals I meet. For example, I may see John
as eight degrees of separation from Christ or Mary three steps
in grace away from God. I see lives as moving closer and closer,
step by step, degree by degree, experience by experience, to
God. (Please excuse the limitations of an imagery meant to help
myself, not to be represented by me as coming from God.)
A mean Christian is a laughable thing. So by all means
try to laugh at yourselves, not bitterly, but kindly
as you see yourself being mean or ridiculous when you
look at yourself with your “third eye” when you review
your actions and passing times in life.
Christ looks at us with amused love, as parents and
grandparents do their children and grandchildren.
This is one of the ways in which God, our Heavenly
Father, sees us. And we need to learn to look at
ourselves with the “amused eye” from outside, the
eye like that of a fond parent watching. In this way
and manner over the years we learn to internalize the
mature eye, the amused eye, the God eye, so we learn
to see ourselves as we are yet not feel rejected by
God. The Heavenly Father never rejects us. We are
His children. Once saved, always saved, and once
loved, no matter how badly we do, always loved.
To learn how to set up and keep a sense of proportion about
ourselves and our religious efforts, as well as to sanely and
helpfully implement religious morality and priorities in our
lives, is important. Many unthinking believers do not realize
this. The point is a difficult one to get across to some.
Augustine of Hippo, when he was young, prayed, “Make me
good but not now.” In another fashion I always looked
at religious folk without a sense of humour or a
sense of proportion, as the two are contiguous
and said, “May we believe but not like that!”
If belief is going to make us ugly, mean, trivial-minded and
accusative, why have it? We can be sinful and ugly on our
own. Our religion will not make us perfect, but it
should make us better. That is the intention of God.
We may trust Christ on this. We may deduce it from
the Gospels and from knowing God today since Christ is
ever with us, now and forever.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.