Continuing on, with my new best friend, Walter Wink. LOL. I don’t think that his ideas are that shocking, but I think it is shocking to see how few of them are applied in mainstream Christian circles.
So my last entry was about how we need to let go of the thought of ourselves as God’s favored, and our enemies as unloved. God loves everyone, and “is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked”, so maybe we should try a little of the same, eh? We’re actually pretty sucky ourselves, in our natural state, so its time to get off of our high horses.
On to Mr. Wink (fantastic name, btw.)
Once the spell of the perfectionist reading has been exorcised, we begin to see just how far from perfect Jesus assumed we are. “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” (Matt. 7:3-5)
I really do love those verses. I have lots o’ logs.
This is the earliest known teaching of what modern psychologists call projection… The “splinter” in the other’s eye is a chip off the same log that is in one’s own eye. We see in the other what we would not see in ourselves. But why is it a log in the eye of the beholder? Isn’t that backward? Normally we say, “I may be somewhat bad (a splinter), but that person is really bad (a log).” Why has Jesus inverted that conventional way of putting it?
Again, I suck at this. I totally do this all the time. God is working on me, and He is changing me, but I am so prone to this type of thinking. I apparently tend to think that my poop doesn’t stink, because that’s how I act.
Because the log in my eye totally blinds me. I can see nothing objectively. Remove the log, and I can see to help my neighbor remove his or her splinter.
I am super-blinded by my logs. Its pathetic.
In workshops on this theme I invite people to name an enemy and list all the things they dislike about that person (or group or movement or nation). Then we ask them to go through that list and ask how many of those characteristics are true also of themselves (or our group or movement or nation). The common elements identify our projections. These can be taken into our meditation, prayer, and spiritual guidance, to see what they have to teach us about ourselves. (Some things on our lists may not be projections. There are people who are objectively hostile, even evil. Not every enemy is a gift. I am focusing only on those enemies that draw our projections.)
OK, so I tried this mentally, and it was pretty disturbing. This is not my first time doing this exercise. I remember doing it in college, and have noticed that i am most annoyed by people who have the same faults as I do. I think this is a great gift in parenting. I recently did an exercise for a parenting Bible study that asked me to write down the things that frustrate me most in my family members. My family members are obviously not my enemies, so that part doesn’t apply here, but I did find the list interesting. The things that I struggled the most with knowing how to handle are also things that I am not so great at handling in myself. Humbling.
Walter Wink gives some examples of things that frustrate you in others that you need to work on. Then he says:
Revelations such as these (and they are precisely that) need to be treasured, because that is the gift our enemy brings to us: to see aspects of ourselves that we cannot discover any other way. Our friends are not good sources of information about these things; they often overlook or ignore these parts of us. The enemy is thus not merely a hurdle to be leapt on the way to God. The enemy can be the way to God. We cannot come to terms with our shadow except through our enemy, for we have no better access to those unacceptable parts of ourselves that need redeeming than through the mirror that our enemies hold up to us. This, then, is another, more intimate reason for loving our enemies: we are dependent on our enemies for our very individuation. We cannot be whole people without them.
How wonderfully humiliating: we not only may have a role in transforming our enemies, but our enemies can play a role in transforming us.
What? I’m not the savior of them?! They help me?! Craziness.
As we become aware of our projections on our enemies, we are freed from the fear that we will overreact murderously toward them. We are able to develop an objective rage at the injustices they have perpetrated while still seeing them as children of God. The energy squandered nursing hatred becomes available to God for confronting the wrong or transforming the relationship.
I have found this to be true, although I think I am still in my infancy in this process. Being able to step back and still see those who hurt you as children of God is so freeing, but so difficult (at least for me.)
An understanding of the Powers makes forgiveness of our enemies easier. If our oppressors “know not what they do,” if they, too, are victims of the delusional system, then the real target of our hate and anger can be the system itself rather than those who carry out its bidding. “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). We can pray for the transformation of our enemies, knowing that even the most intractable opponents may be capable of complete turnabout, and that some have actually done so.
Interestingly enough, this was the topic of my Beth Moore study last night. Once again, when Beth Moore agrees with practically anyone else that I’m studying, then I think that’s a big deal. I’m pretty sure that pretty much the only thing that overlaps between these authors is Christ, LOL.
Joe and I had a discussion about how all of this relates to America’s position in the world, and it was really good. We both realize how much we’ve bought into the myth of redemptive violence – the idea that violence makes peace. Somehow it seems like so much of mainstream Christianity is saying that we can accomplish peace through violence, and yet that was not the way of Christ at all. Are there times when we must stand up against evil and cruelty? Absolutely. Is violence the only way to do that? Of course not.
We can look to history to see example after example of nations being healed without violence. Even our own revolution in America had many non-violent aspects. We just abandoned them for war. The problem is that violence breeds violence, and its not like it really even works. Lets just look around. Does the world look more peaceful? Uh, no. More civilians were killed in the 20th century than in every century before that combined. Clearly our methods of violence aren’t making for a more peaceful world, and we know its not what Christ taught. How is it that Christianity in America has become so entangled with the myth of redemptive violence?
I don’t know the answer. I did find it interesting to try the above exercise with America’s enemies vs. America. We don’t exactly come out looking like roses. 😉 We’re not all bad, of course, and we do a lot of things very well. I also believe that America, on a whole, is trying to do the right thing. I think it is just easy to get misguided.
So… if I come up with a solution to world peace, I’ll let you know. Until then, I’m going to keep working on applying these examples in my (much smaller and more manageable) day-to-day life.