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The blessedness of not choosing.

This morning I woke up with my throat scratchy and my head hurting.  My body aches and I am pretty sure that my temperature is a few notches higher than it should be.  The evidence is clear:  I’m sick.  It’s not a fun state to be in.

As I have done many times before, I dragged myself to the pharmacy in search for the appropriate medication to relieve my symptoms.  Have you ever noticed how many options there are to choose from?  There are the medication for the cold and flu; ones for runny nose and stuffy head; there are those that suppress coughs, relieve pain, or clears phlegm.  You can choose the night-time-make-me-drowsy-medication, the daytime-make-me –functional one, or the questionable we-do-everything-all-in-one brand.  Standing in that aisle, with all the various options before me, it struck me that I am the one who is to decide how to cure myself.  I am the one who chooses what it is that will fix my illness.  Frankly, even if my head were clear that onus seems kind of daunting.  It’s altogether worse when you are in the place of non-health.

Many people today approach matters of faith like choosing the appropriate flu medication. Faith  exist along a long spiritual shelf for which one is able to pick and choose that which best fits their own symptoms and desires.  All are equal, all are valid, all are true. The individual chooses that which they want to align their spirits.  That may sound great, but how exactly are you supposed to choose?   This over exposure to a multiplicity of options essentially creates a system whereby it is impossible to do so. How do you make the ‘right’ choice when essentially the choice does not matter?  If I can pick up or put down “Spiritual Faith A” just as easily as I can “Spiritual Faith B”, is there anything that warrants me picking either of them in the first place? What is more, like choosing cough medication when immersed in flu symptoms, it is hard to navigate the complex shelf of competing spiritual truths when you are in the place of spiritual non-health.

Sadly, the moral, ethical, and spiritual relativism that is sometimes promoted in culture leaves many with this sense of spiritual homelessness.  They long for that which will provide spiritual vitality to them, but feel ill-equipped to make such a decision themselves.  This is where the Christian gospel is able to leap off the shelf, for rather than declaring ‘choose me’, we hear the declaration that our creator and redeemer has chosen us.  We hear the divine voice state ‘before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” We learn that we love because ‘He first loved us.’  Rather than a demand to choose that which is the best, Jesus calls us to receive that which gives us life, and health, and peace.

Charles Spurgeon writes “We will never be happy, restful or spiritually healthy until we become holy.”   Our spiritual health is not something we deem for ourselves, or even choose for ourselves.  It is wrapped up in the context of us receiving the grand gift of God’s self-offering.  In a time where so many people are longing for that spiritual center to define themselves, may the church be bolder and louder in our cry that Jesus is the answer.  He is the answer to the restless need to search for fulfillment and wholeness; He is the answer to the chronic spiritual malaise so often felt; he is the answer to all spiritual cries and yearnings, not because we have chosen him, but because he has chosen us.

We find spiritual liberation not in choosing but being chosen; there is freedom in receiving.   There is health in the one who comes to us in our sicknesses to bring us salvation, peace and life.

Where do you see the distinction between the christian proclamation that we have been chosen in Christ, and the moral/spiritual relativism promoted by the culture?

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith.

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0 Responses to The blessedness of not choosing.

  1. Hi, Kyle.

    Hope that ‘flu is better. I believe there’s a Pelagian streak which runs through both church and culture, which fits with the consumerism by which we define ourselves. But there’s another element which has greater appeal for many – the mystical tradition which is less about the head and more about the heart, which begins, not with what choices we make, but with God’s choice of us. The gospel for this coming Sunday (Lent 1) is all about the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ baptism, where he is designated as God’s chosen and beloved, and quickly subjected to the temptation which underlies the three which form most of the narrative – the temptation to deny who he is, contained in the word ‘IF”.  Paul Tillich expressed this another way in his famous sermon, ‘You Are Accepted’. For many of us, that seems to be the biggest problem – accepting that we are indeed accepted, chosen, and designated by God, just for who we are. We seem so prone to denying our God-given status, and allowing other people to define us, or struggling to redefine ourselves. Advertising is largely based on creating the self-doubt which sets us up for the false choices it so often puts before us: and much religion is based on creating equally false choices based on our anxious egos. Your discussion starter is a great one for the beginning of Lent! Thanks.

  2. Afra Saskia Tucker

    And do we choose to be chosen?

    I accept that Jesus answers all yours needs and questions; however, for me, Christ is also a way that honours the search as much as the answers themselves. Boldness is an attractive quality; but I’m not sure I embrace boldness as you have portrayed it. Some of this likely due to a difference in our cultural assumptions.

    Your post really gave me something to think about concerning attitudes towards homelessness, and not just spiritual; so I thank you.

  3. Kyle Norman

    Peter and Afra

    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad that my post helped spark some lenten reflections.

    Blessings.  (and yes Peter my flu is much better now )

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