New Year Reflection: Evolving Church

from Fr Richard Rohr

Brian McLaren
  Summary: An Evolving Faith       A School for Love
Friday, January 3, 2020     Today, friend and CAC faculty member Brian McLaren continues describing the three shifts Christianity needs to make in order to be true to the vision and mission of Jesus the Christ. Yesterday Brian explained the importance of becoming (1) “decentralized and diverse.” Today, he describes the need to be (2) “radically collaborative” and to (3) “love as Jesus taught and embodied.” Rather than a top-heavy institution concerned about in-house salvation, the Christianity of the future will place love of God, neighbor, self, and all creation at the center. Brian writes: The diverse and decentralized movement we need will be radically collaborative, working with, across, and, when necessary, outside of and in spite of existing institutions to seek the common good. It will not be anti-institutional because institutions are necessary for human survival, but neither will it be institutional, in the sense that it is preoccupied with its own survival or bringing benefits only to its members. Rather, it will be trans-institutional, working across institutions, both religious and non-religious, seeking the common good of those inside and outside the movement and the institutions it involves. . . .  The . . . most important aspect of this [new] form of Christianity in the future is simple, obvious, and yet radical: it is about love, as Jesus taught and embodied [emphasis mine—RR]. . . . The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was about love first and foremost, in word and deed. Jesus began with love for God, but inseparably linked that love with love for neighbor [1], with the understanding that neighbor includes the other, the outsider, the outcast, the last, the least, the lost, the disgraced, the dispossessed, and the enemy. This love for neighbor was, in turn, inextricably related to an appropriate love for self. In fact, to love neighbor as oneself leads to the realization that oneself and one’s neighbor are actually distinct yet inseparable realities. In today’s world, we must add that, for Jesus, God’s love extends to the wildflower, the meadow grass, the sparrow, and the raven. He saw all of God’s creatures as part of one heavenly realm, as did dear St. Francis, and as do more and more of us. When I think of this [new] kind of Christianity of the future, then, I think of a movement of revolutionary love. I see it as distinctively Christian, but not in any exclusive way, because if we truly see love as Jesus’ point and passion, then the depth of our devotion to Christ will always lead us to love our Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Indigenous, nonreligious, agnostic, atheist, and other neighbors as ourselves. . . . In this desirable future, every willing Christian congregation makes every competing interest subsidiary to love, which is the fruit of all contemplation and the goal of all action. If we embody this [emergent] form of Christianity, . . .  if we become the seeds of a movement of contemplative activism in the Spirit of Christ, I can imagine hundreds of thousands of congregations, . . . each a locally and globally engaged school of love, teaching future generations to discover, practice, and live in love: love for our neighbor, love for ourselves, love for all creatures and all creation—all comprising love for God, who is all in all in all.  

For more go to: Richard Rohr’s daily Meditation

4 thoughts on “New Year Reflection: Evolving Church

  1. Tim O’Dwyer

    Some 50 years ago after reading a tattered copy of this book during overnight shifts as a Lifeline telephone counsellor my life was “changed, changed utterly”:

    LOVE, THE LAW OF LIFE by Toyohiko Kagawa

  2. Tim O’Dwyer

    Kagawa’s profound and persuasive treatise on love took me from a messy, uncertain Christian faith into resolving to endeavour to live out this (cherry-picked) Bible passage: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

    Kagawa expressed this more wordily in his conclusion:

    “Love in its arms enfolds all. Love is my Holy of Holies. Through Love I ascend to the heights and de- scend to the depths. Love is all-pervading. Love leads man into the innermost shrine of reality. Love is the only eye that visions God. With this wonderful eye
    of Love, God and man behold one another. In Love,
    the eye of man becomes the eye of God. In Love is
    first achieved the interfusion of Divinity and humanity.”

    I subsequently discovered and wholly endorsed Micah 6:8
    “And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?“

    Finally I realised that Micah’s divine injunction was encapsulated in what Jesus, after relating the Good Samaritan parable, essentially told the lawyer who asked who was his neighbour: Just be a neighbour!

    My “faith” has over the years become less for talking about, and more for living out. Nevertheless, I hope this response to Paul Inglis’ invitation may be of assistance to others on their Progressive “journey”.

    What do I believe? I believe in Love!

  3. Paul Inglis Post author

    Thanks Tim. I too for some time have adopted this passage as it answers all my questions about who or what is God and gives direction to living a life following Jesus.

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