The Catholic mystic and popular spiritual teacher Richard Rohr has often helped me understand certain Christian truths in profound ways. In a CD teaching resource titled: Christ, Cosmology and Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See he says, “Ordinary Christianity has emphasized that we should love God. This makes sense, but do we really know how to do it? What I find in the mystics is an overwhelming experience of how God has loved us! That’s what comes through all of their writings, and I do mean all—that God is forever the initiator, God is the doer, God is the one who seduces me in my unworthiness. It’s all about God’s initiative! Then the mystics try desperately to give back, to offer their lives back to the world.”
He then adds: “As my father Francis put it, ‘Love is not loved! Love is not loved! I want to love back the way I have been loved!’ But mystics are not trying to earn God’s love by doing good things or going to church services. That question is already and profoundly resolved. The mystics’ overwhelming experience is this full body blow of the divine embrace, a radical acceptance by God even in their state of fragmentation and poverty. That’s what makes it ‘amazing’ and ‘grace’ (see Romans 11:6).”
I love that phrase regarding the overwhelming experience that results in “this full body blow of the divine embrace.” I would not have understood it that way in my tradition but I find this immensely helpful. It reaches my aright brain with more force and appeal to my imagination in a Christ-centered way.
Rohr concludes, “You can see and hear the difference in the style of helpfulness or worship when people are trying to earn God’s love and when they are trying to return God’s love. Returning love has an entirely different energy than earning love. It’s not based in fear or desperation or groveling. It’s based in ecstasy and joy. Frankly, many storefront churches and charismatic churches exemplify this free love more than most of us mainline folks.”
His last sentence is very often true. Those who lean upon the active presence of the Holy Spirit in conscious ways very often understand this truth much more deeply. May their tribe increase.