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Falling In Love

Peter Arrupe, S.J., former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, said,

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

"What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

"Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

Last Sunday, we began our sermon series on the Lord's Prayer the way Jesus began the Lord's Prayer: with an astonishing reminder that the god to whom we are praying - the Lord God - can be related to as "our father."

"When you pray," Jesus said, "say 'our father'..."

The god we pray to, in other words, is not to be thought of as some impersonal force behind the universe: some cosmic but indifferent, uncaring, uninvolved being. That is a small-g-god created in our own imagination. That's an idol.

Here's the thing: Because God is mystery, all language about God is metaphor. All language attempts to capture some limited notion of who God is or what God is like, but no human language can offer us a complete picture.

So it's all the more astonishing that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he started out by saying we can relate to God as our heavenly "father."

One in whose very image we are to who loves us.

Think about it: Jesus could've offered a number of other different ways of relating to God. As I said in Sunday's sermon, borrowing from the author John Eldredge, the Bible offers a number of different, but ascending metaphors for our relationship to God. The first three are:
  • We are clay, God is the potter who molds us;
  • We are sheep, "the Lord is my shepherd" who provides for us and protects us;
  • We are servants, God is your master whom you dutifully obey (many believers are stuck at this level);
But Jesus didn't choose any of those when he taught us to pray. God is not to be thought of in our daily prayer as merely some molding influence, some impersonal force, or "the big boss."

Now you might be wondering: Why is it I'm spending so much time on this? We haven't even gotten past the first two words of the Lord's Prayer!

It's because I'm convinced that what you think about God is the single most important thing going on in your life. Not just your spiritual life (because there really is no such thing as a "spiritual life" separate from the rest of our life) but because we are spiritual beings, I'm convinced that what you think about God is the single most important thing going on in your entire life: your love life, your financial life, your family life, your intellectual life, your professional life. Every aspect of life.

Is God to be trusted? Are you in love with God, and do you sense, deep down, that God is in love with you, in the middle of all your weaknesses and faults and doubts?

The answers to those questions will determine not only whether or not the rest of the Lord's Prayer makes sense to you, but whether prayer in general makes sense to you.

"Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." 


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