Sunday, May 06, 2007

France decides-and French fries.

Living in Brazil one gets to watch news in English on CNN international network. If you think CNN in the USA is a bit left of center, you should see CNN internatiional. I don't think they can find much of anything they like about the USA.

So, since I am at home today nursing a case of cellulitus that has me wondering how a bacteria you can't see can make your lower leg look like a car hit it and feel like it is an oven, I am watching the news. Hopefully the antibiotics will work so I can get back to "normal" life. I would hate to think this car wreck appearance would spread!

Today CNN is covering the French elections. Down here in Brazil what happens in Europe is huge news. The Brazilians see themselves linked very strongly to Europe and especially to French socialism. Today was a tough day for French Socialism. It is kind of ironic that the French people just sent a tough message to the socialists that change is needed just when all over Latin America socialists are in full stride and power.

When the new French President elect said "America can count on us as friends", I nearly fell out of my couch and called McDonald's for some french fries!

Many of you who read this blog know that I don't speak or write about politics. It may the antibiotics that have caused this but here goes...

What struck me about today in France was the passion humans have for their nation and their world. It is awesome to watch unless it explodes into violence. Thank God for democracy. Thank God for a way to change without bombs.

This passion for fixing what is wrong with our world comes from how God created us in the first place. There is supposed to be a hunger and thirst for righteousness in the healthy spiritual life. The food for that hunger is to be found in God and not in defeating your political enemy. When our hunger for righteousnes and justice is found in God, then we are free to enter the battle for what is good and right in the world. If we enter the fight without God as our food for righteousness all we have left to "eat" is other people.

Oswald Chambers once said "In the world never expect justice, but never cease to give it." That is it! The passion for politics and change is not wrong. It is great. It is human. It is what God put into us as the leaders and caretakers of the creation. What he did not put into us is the idea that the passion for justice is only ours and the other people don't have any of it. All humans have it written somewhere in them.

The current politcal leaders in Latin America are filled with arrogance and pride about where they are headed for all of our collective good. Whether from the left or right this is really a very bad sign. The attitude one sees and hears down here goes something like this: "Everything that happened before we came to power was horrible so we will tear it all down and then we will figure out how to make sure we stay in power so those horrible people can't come back" Again, right or left this is tragic because it makes one group of people the source of justice instead of all people looking for justice which really comes from God alone.

France has an incredible history of political battles, wars and debates. The French hit the streets to demonstrate like no other nation I have ever seen. They also have a history of dealing harshly with some kinds of thoughts they don't like.

One of their citizens of many centuries ago was a woman named Madame Guyon. She was a devout Catholic searching for a barrier-free relationship with God who began to teach people they could practice God's presence in personal private prayer even if they did not know how to read or could not go to the church. This radical departure from State and religious dogma and control put her in France's worst prison for seven years. Ironically, they confined her where she could really learn to pray without any help or interference! She spent most of her time in a cell all alone. She came out of prison more convinced than ever one can enjoy God with no help except God.

When I think of the French and their spirit I think of this woman. I also read her words regularly so I will be reminded that what I teach openly here in Brazil about Abiding cost her 7 years in prison. Thank God for religious freedom! Would I spend 7 years in prison to spread the word that every Christian can experience the same quality of relationship with God without the need to depend on State or Church? I hope I would because it is that important to spiritual formation. If we have to be dependent on anything or anyone but Jesus to bear fruit, we have lost connection with the truth that makes Christianity so much more than an institutional experience.

Here is are some of Madame Guyon's words I read this morning.

Surrendering your will to God --Madame Guyon

"We practice this by continually surrendering our own will to the will of God, and renouncing every private inclination as soon as it arises, however good it may appear to be. We must become indifferent with respect to ourselves, only will what God has willed for us from all eternity, and resign ourselves in all things, whether for soul or body, for time or eternity.

We must also forget the past, leave the future to providence, devote the present to God, and be satisfied with the present moment. Whatever this moment brings, it also brings with it God's eternal order in respect to us, and is an infallible a declaration of His will as it is unavoidable and common to all.

Further, we must attribute nothing that befalls us as being from people. Instead, seeing everything as being in God, we must look upon everything, except our sins, as infallibly coming from Him"

I think Madame Guyon would see France's election in light of the last line of her words. Read that last line again and note the words "attribute nothing that befalls us as being from people" and "seeing everything as being in God..."

A person who so trusts in God moment by moment can do prison for 7 years and come away with their soul still well.
A person who so trusts in God can lose an election or win an election and still retain a soul that is well.

A person who so trusts in God can even watch CNN international as his only English news source and retain a soul that is well. It is a test, but it is possible!

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