Into Ever Wider Spaces

Religious obligation makes our world narrower.  The harder we work to keep God on our side, the more demanding and judmental we become of others. We resent those who seem to have more fun that we do and judge those who don’t work as hard as we do.  It makes us angry, bitter, and frustrated with ourselves and others.  Freedom in Christ, however, makes our world more expansive, alive, and filled withi joy.

I’ve never ead Eberhard Arnold, but I’ve seen a lot of quotes from him lately that really resonate with me.  This one does.  Unfortunately I don’t know what the antecedent is to his conclusion.  I have no idea what he would say about Jesus that makes our live broader, boundless, and more abundant.  But every conclusion he makes below I see in the lives of those who are learning to live as God’s beloved children in the earth. Knowing God as a gracious Father and sharing that graciousness with others, not only transforms us into his image, but leaves us more full of joy and graciousness to others at the same time. This is a process, undoubtedly and takes some time, but this describes so well the people I know in the world who are learning to live in the reality of Father’s affection:

Our life will become not narrower, but broader; not more limited, but more boundless; not more regulated, but more abundant; not more pedantic, but more bounteous; not more sober, but more enthusiastic; not more faint-hearted, but more daring; not more empty and human, but more filled by God; not sadder, but happier; not more incapable, but more creative. All this is Jesus and his spirit of freedom and peace. He is coming to us. Let us go into his future radiant with joy!

— Eberhard Arnold in A Joyful Pilgrimage

I love this journey and how it shapes our lives to express more of his reality to people around us when we’re not even trying.

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2 Comments
  1. Daniel September 26, 2015 at 2:25 am

    Wayne, your short reflection on that quote by Eberhard Arnold is really great, in that it points so well to our future in Christ, as opposed to our future in ourselves.  As John said: He must increase, i must decrease. You finished with the wonderful and hope building and exhilarating idea of offering our lives ” to express more of his reality to people around us when we are not even trying”. Isn’t this so absolutely fulfilling and awe creating for us as we are shown it – with me this seems to be in hindsight!! 

    I am now beginning to see (or perhaps being shown!) how my faith sometimes sways subtly off course to a group of others or even individuals or even teachings.  Our gracious God’s response to this helps us to recognise it firstly, and then to embrace a more complete reality of who He is and wishes to be in our lives.  As you so nicely put, there is a real sense of being able to bless others by simply accepting His presence in our lives, not some effort or ability or quality of our own.  Thank you.  Daniel

  2. Daniel September 26, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Wayne, your short reflection on that quote by Eberhard Arnold is really great, in that it points so well to our future in Christ, as opposed to our future in ourselves.  As John said: He must increase, i must decrease. You finished with the wonderful and hope building and exhilarating idea of offering our lives ” to express more of his reality to people around us when we are not even trying”. Isn’t this so absolutely fulfilling and awe creating for us as we are shown it – with me this seems to be in hindsight!! 

    I am now beginning to see (or perhaps being shown!) how my faith sometimes sways subtly off course to a group of others or even individuals or even teachings.  Our gracious God’s response to this helps us to recognise it firstly, and then to embrace a more complete reality of who He is and wishes to be in our lives.  As you so nicely put, there is a real sense of being able to bless others by simply accepting His presence in our lives, not some effort or ability or quality of our own.  Thank you.  Daniel

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