What it’s all about is PRAYER, and when we lose sight of that all kinds of unpleasant things happen. I used to hate it when someone would mention that they thought it was all about prayer, but now I realize they were absolutely correct – and that I only disagreed with them because I didn’t understand what prayer really was.
I believe there is a very human tendency to rush full speed ahead, damn the torpedos. I have come to see that strategy as not serving anyone very well on a consistent basis. We also tend to be masters of self-deception in many different ways, particularly in the spiritual realm. The first self-deception is that we tend to assign ourselves very grandiose roles. We become defenders of this or that, guardians of the truth of this or that. I remember hearing of some pompus stuffed shirt of a bishop refusing to attend an ordination as a guest because he felt he had to “protect my precious apostolic seed.” Yes, he actually said that. I don’t know if he was concerned they would be giving away free vasectomies or not, but clearly something was very wrong with his perspective – because he saw himself as somehow responsible for protecting God! Now I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble (or wherever one stores one’s apostolic seed), but God doesn’t need our protection from anything or anyone and, even if God did need protection, how arrogant do you have to be to assume you can protect God from something that God can’t protect himself from? Wouldn’t that make you bigger than God? That’s more than a little theologically and egotistically problematic! Well, others will say, we need to protect Christian truth or orthodox doctrine or any of a host of other things. No you don’t. Moreover, you can’t. Both are bigger than little old you.
I think we would realize when we had gotten off the beaten path – much less the sane path – if we spent significant amounts of time in prayer. By prayer I don’t mean intercession, or liturgy, or praise, or any other forms of active prayer. I mean listening to God, communing with God, spending significant amounts of time in the silence with God so that our thoughts, our plans, our delusions all fall away and we are left with nothing but the presence of God. If we do this regularly ego cannot help but fall away – and that scares the hell out of us. So instead we fall back on positions, and doctrine, and purging the church of heretics, and schisms…
…and in all of this, Jesus is lost – lost in the clamour of people struggling to gain power, money, fame, and control in the name of God. Denominations implode, “foreign” bishops transgress geographical boundaries, “confessing movements” sue for church property, and Jesus is lost – lost by the Institution that has proclaimed itself the protector of the faith. How can this be?
It can be when we lose sight of the fact that it is all about prayer, and not at all about us.