Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Exclusion or Embrace? A space for personal discovery (revelation) or enforcement of rules (law)? Not taking into account a wrong suffered or feeling it's our job to teach someone a lesson? Exclusion or Embrace? Living patiently with others or demanding immediate change? Accepting people where they are at knowing that what they are bringing is all they have at that moment or making them live up to our expectations? Exclusion or Embrace?

"When God sets out to embrace the enemy, the result is the cross. On the cross the dancing circle of self-giving and mutually indwelling divine persons opens up for the enemy; in the agony of the passion the movement stops for a brief moment and a fissure appears so that sinful humanity can join in (see John 17:21). We, the others - we, the enemies - are embraced by the divine persons who love us with the same love with which they love each other and therefore make space for us within their own eternal embrace." (p.129)

This quote is from Miroslav Volf from his book Exclusion and Embrace and he is talking about the act of Father, Son, and Spirit embracing us...accepting and loving us when we were still enemies. How I began this post could certainly apply to that which Volf is speaking but that's not exactly what I was getting at. I was thinking of those closest to us who don't even come close to being enemies and how often we have difficulty embracing, our spouses, children, extended family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Sometimes I feel caught in a trap, a trap that attempts to determine, to set in stone my next move. How does one through love teach another (in this case three daughters) that they are living in a harsh world that often doesn't really give a rat's ass about them? They are just a power source needed to run the machine, and the running of the machine is all that really matters to the system we live in. And also when it comes to relational circles, they will more than likely at times find themeslves being excluded based sometimes upon mistakes they have clearly made and other times because people blow things out of proportion and still other times because people just choose to go the exclusion route instead of the embrace route because they don't yet know how to love.
So how does one prepare themself and in this case my daughters for such a life, I really don't know but I am trying. I will not use the same tactics the world uses, the most over-riding one being the threat of loss and the fear of punishment for mistakes. But I am telling them often that this is how the world operates and they must learn to play within the necessities of that game...to a point that is. We all have to figure out for ourselves what that point is though. It's quite a dilemma. I was feeling very challenged by all of this tonight. Not so much by them personally...but by the game. I will not let the game and the "proper" "culturally accepted" enforcement of rules of the game come between my embrace of these three girls. The wrestling with it all continues, so as to learn how to better help them function in a society that has been so stripped of grace and functions predominately by law and exclusion to one degree or another, and yet at the same time help them live so acutely aware of the eternal embrace of Father, Son, and Spirit and myself and their mom, that is never determined by their performance. It's an embrace I want them to always be assured of and I want them to learn to live extending that embrace to everyone around them.


Sue said...

"... this is how the world operates and they must learn to play within the necessities of that game...to a point that is. We all have to figure out for ourselves what that point is though"

Yes, that is a difficult one, isn't it? And I guess that point changes from time to time. We have to pick our fights with the system, shore up our strength for where Papa might be leading.

That Volk quote is just wonderful

Rick Gibson said...

Excellent and encouraging post Kent! Loved the last one too, they both really hit home with me. I just started reading 'Abba's Child' this morning and was challenged by the idea that the biggest problem in the American church is self-rejection because it contracticts the voice that calls us 'Beloved'.

Kent said...

Yep Sue, it's a flowing tide.

Rick I've heard Paul Young say this so many times lately and we had such a great conversation about it one night with a group of my friends while he was here...when it comes to this realtionship with God it's about two things: His character and our indentity. As those things begin to get sorted out, healthy relationships begin to happen fir the first time because it is no longer centered around the behavior of the other. We learn to relate with Him, ourselves and others with His kind of love.

And as I have mentioned here before, I loved Abba's Child.