Monday, January 09, 2012

The Glory of Selfless Freedom

Monroe County

Thomas Merton confessed: "The sin of wanting to be a pontiff, of wanting to be heard, of wanting converts, disciples. Being in a cloister, I thought I did not want this. Of course I did, and everyone knows it... I have got to face the fact that there is in me a desire for survival as pontiff, prophet, and writer, and this has to be renounced before I can be myself at last." (A Year with Thomas Merton, Kindle Locations 1144-1145)

Is it wrong to desire to do great things for God? No.

Is it wrong to desire to be someone great, for the sake of one's own self? Yes.

Is it wrong to desire to be used and wielded by God so that the honor and reputation of God is increased? No. In fact, that is the point of the whole thing; that is the point of life. That is what gives life meaning.

Is it wrong to desire to be great and do great things (whatever that might mean, without God) so that one's own honor and reputation increases? Yes. Of course. These are the kind of people we do not want as our leaders, the ones who cannot be our true friends. They are the ones who use people for their own gain.

Is it wrong to desire to help the poor, hungry, homeless, and "least of these" out of our love for Jesus (Matthew 25)? No. To do that is very good.

Is it wrong to help the poor, hungry, and homeless even if one does not believe in Jesus? No. That is a good thing, a very Christlike thing.

Is it wrong to help the poor, hungry, and homeless mostly to make a name for one's own self. Yes. To do that is evil.

A free person is one who no longer loves and serves others as a cloak for the enhancement of their own reputation. When that happens, they find their true selves, which is Christ, the hope of glory, in them.

I'm running towards this freedom. I'm not yet fully free of desiring the acclaim of others. But God "guides me in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake." (Ps. 23)

I see the light and glory of this selfless freedom before me.