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Dave Brisbin

Our Turn

What would you say is the most damaging personal attitude to life in general and spirituality in particular? Fear, anger, hatred? What about passivity…and its close cousin, victimhood. Passivity is sneaky, because it isn’t immediately discernable as a vice, but the lack of will to respond actively, proactively, even to resist when that is necessary, keeps us from participating in life at all. Anger or hatred, if it’s active, is less harmful than passivity to a person’s return to life.

For someone who sees themselves as a victim, passivity is the norm. A victim isn’t just someone who was hurt, but someone who had no choice in the matter. Choice is key. Once choice returns, so does personal responsibility. How many of us hang on to victimhood as a way of absolving ourselves from the responsibility to change, heal, grow. Not consciously, maybe, but just as effectively passive.

The church has taught us a largely passive way of spiritual life. Unquestioning obedience to law and doctrine is passive. Yet Jesus questioned everything, resisting where necessary, risking consequences. Believing we must be saved, that God can’t accept us without a savior’s intervention is passive and contradicts Jesus’ life and teaching. He consistently pointed to the Father rather than himself, saw himself as the living Way to that unity, stressed that his followers were to do what he was doing, not be passively saved by his action. His first followers picked up that emphasis by calling themselves Followers of the Way. Not Christians or even followers of Jesus—an essential distinction pointing to the need for personal action.

Jesus’ life and message is all about removing any blocks between us and God, whether the religious authority of his or any generation, or our own fears and victimhood. He is showing us a non-passive Way to approach God directly—and telling that what we’ll find there is good news. That God has already chosen us, has chosen and accepted us since the beginning of time.

There is nothing left for God to choose; nothing left for us to ask for, nothing left to wait for.

God has made his choice. Now it’s our turn.


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