We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful;
as unrecognized and yet acknowledged;
as dying and behold we live;
as chastised and yet not put to death;
as sorrowful yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many;
as having nothing and yet possessing all things. – 2 Corinthians 6.8-10
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” – Matthew 5.38-42
Paired side by side, these scriptures reveal a spiritual paradox that has immense capacity to help us live at peace in all our relationships: God, other, self, society and nature. The essence of the invitation is our deepening consent to be “hollowed” out by divine love so to be full of it’s energy. This inward dynamic is the heart of how the peace is possible.
The paradox is also summed up in the traditional threefold monastic vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. It turns out these vows aren’t just for monks and nuns. They are for all of us who seek to follow our Foot-Washer-Lord into the villages of life with something other than just our homemade self to offer. These practices are an inward disposition to cultivate toward our own sense of “ownership” of our life, health, wealth, possessions, family, reputation and mission in life.
At its core, the principle isn’t saying that possessions or success in life is negative, or something to be shunned. Rather, the principle is inviting us to discover what owns us by giving and sharing and releasing. In so doing, we often discover that we can’t out-give the Source – and the more we release, the more we receive. Perhaps not in the exact same way, but in unexpected ways of sheer grace.
When we know that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ; when the center of our life is a hollowed out fullness of love through suffering and devotion, we begin to discover the sheer bliss of living as ones owned and filled by God, like kites filled by the wind.
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