Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nouwen Part 5

The next section of the book is short in pages but long in spiritual depth. In fact I think it could be the most helpful aspect of all that is taken from this text. It covers the issue of contemplative prayer; something that we need to explore and work on for sure. We are a culture driven by the "me mentality". We usually look to prayer as an open request line to God so that He can respond to what we need or want at the time. While we have made this almost the sole focus of prayer in and out of the church building it is really only one small portion of what prayer is intended to be for us. Nouwen makes these points:
  • the Christian leader of the future will need the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking us, "do you love me? do you love me? do you love me?" This is the discipline of contemplative prayer.
  • contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us suggests the opposite.
  • it is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time.
  • are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look into God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word, and to taste full of God's goodness?
  • the original meaning of the word theology was "union with God in prayer"
  • today theology has become one academic discipline among many others, and often theologians are finding it hard to pray
  • every word spoken, every word of advice given, and every strategy developed can come from the heart that knows God intimately.
  • Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well formed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word.
  • dealing with issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject
  • when we are securely rooted it will be possible to remain flexible with out being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.
  • for Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.

Our time spent with God cannot consist merely of an opportunity to request things of Him. If we are to truly become "new creations" we must spent the necessary time with Him to allow Him to mold us as He desires. This is often not pleasant work for us, but it is necessary!

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