FAITH AND FAMILY - SERIES 15
Faith is the key to a breakthrough. It has the unique power to enable new beginnings. The Kingdom of God, as envisaged and announced by Jesus, is a horizon of new beginnings. This is quite different, however, from an indiscriminate craving for novelty. In a sense, nothing is new. Yet, everyone and everything needs to become new! Renewal is a universal human need. The authentic proof of faith, as Jesus revealed to Nicodemus, is the willingness to be born again (Jn. 3:3). Jesus was challenging Nicodemus on the importance of making a radical break with his conditionings in order to claim the freedom to shift to a different foundation for life. That foundation is not new in a creational sense. It is new only in relation to where a person is in respect of his spiritual destiny.
Every home stands in need of a new beginning. And we are free to begin again, anew. But few claim this God-given birthright and the healing it can herald. The instance of the man beside the pool of Bethesda (Jn. 5:1-10) is meant to alert us to this fact. He wanted to be healed, but was unwilling to welcome health as a different life-orientation. This is so poignantly true of family life. Couples in conflict are counseled and re-oriented. But, back in their home, they resume their habitual dispositions and low intensity conflicts. A Christian family is not one that has never experienced any upheaval, but one that has the strength of faith to make a new beginning and to stay steadfast with it. Faith does not mean that sea of life will never chafe; what it means is that we can be at peace despite the sea, if we have faith.
More often than not, it is not earth-shaking changes that are required to improve the situation at home. They are, instead, minor adjustments: being a little more organized, adjusting one’s priorities in sensitivity to each other, a little more love and a little less of stubbornness, a modicum of cooperation and spontaneity, above all, exemplifying the gracious dignity of being a child of God. Strange it is that most people choose, albeit by default, to live through a lifetime of misery than accept such adjustments. The identification mark of a person who is averse to changing oneself is his or her eagerness to shift the blame to the other as well as the readiness to don the mask of a victim. Breakthroughs in life, like Jesus in Laodicea, stand and knock at the door. Do we dare, or care, to open the door?
Life comprises, mostly, routine activities. They are, mostly, acquired through imitation. We do not originate the attitudes and agendas we pursue. We simply imbibe them. When these adopted patterns of actions and reactions are repeated over time, they become second nature to us. Thereafter they seem involuntary. This is the substance of our existential unfreedom. We become prisoners within ourselves.
Prisoners, by definition, cannot unlock their prisons. Prisons are unlocked either by jailors or kings. Jailors have the authority to open a prison door, but they do not have the authority, in themselves, to set the captives free. But if it is a king who opens the door of a prison, it could result in the liberation of the captives. Our homes need to be opened by the King, not by a jailor. But, unless we have faith, we could mistake the King for a jailor, as the Jews did.
The ethical teachings of Jesus –spiritual guidelines, really- are aimed at liberating us from the unfreedom of habitual actions. We are habituated, for instance, to react in kind. So if someone slaps us on one cheek, we feel programmed to return the compliment. From a worldly perspective this seems an expression of freedom; for only slaves are obliged to put up with insults and humiliation. But, from a spiritual perspective, the inner compulsion to strike back denotes internalized unfreedom. It entangles us in a cause-effect determinism that excludes relational breakthroughs. Breakthroughs in relationships are impossible unless we have the moral and spiritual freedom to break the action-reaction nexus. Unless set free from this, we cannot make a new beginning. So we remain locked up in the old.
He who is in Christ Jesus, says Paul, is a new creation. The new has come. The old has passed away. The old must make way for the new. The death of the old is a pre-condition for the birth of the new. The courage to believe in this possibility and to adopt practical steps in this direction is the essence of faith.
Faith of this order is, indeed, the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of thing not seen (Heb. 11:1), which is an inexhaustible resource for renewal. Family stands in need of renewal. Faith makes the difference between fullness of life and slow death in respect of family. The spiritual exhortation has always been the same: choose life, not death.
[THE SERIES CONCLUDED]
FAITH AND FAMILY - PREVIOUS CHAPTERS
|Email this Link to a Friend||Send Your Feedback|
LIGHT OF LIFE
PUBLISHED ON FIRST DAY OF EVERY MONTH