Swing – when it comes, it comes as a gift

By Dave Henning / December 31, 2017

“Swing . . . [is] never fully under our control.  When it comes, it comes as a gift. . . .  The biblical term for ‘swing’ is shalom.”- John Ortberg

John Ortberg continues Chapter 13 of I’d Like You More . . . as he talks about the rowing term “swing.”  Pastor Ortberg notes it’s hard to achieve and hard to define.  Swing only happens when all eight oarsmen row in perfect unison.  As a result, no single action by any one oarsman gets out of synch with the actions of all the others.

Thus, at the moment you most sacrifice yourself for others, you’re most fully yourself.  Fully alive.  Also, swing happens in friendships, marriages, workplaces, and families.  As John observes, the Bible refers to his as shalom.  In Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (1995), Neal Plantinga calls shalom “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight.”

Therefore, intimacy must flow beyond itself.  As John asserts, it needs “outimacy,” which he defines as an “overflow in love for someone outside the circle.”

Yet, intimacy requires a purpose nobler than simply one’s own happiness.  Jean Vanier, director of the L’Arche community where Henri Nouwen resided for many years, cautions about the two great dangers of close-knit groups:

“The two great dangers of community [intimacy] are ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’  People very quickly get together with those who are like themselves. . . .   Human friendships can very quickly become a club of mediocrities, enclosed in mutual flattery and approval, preventing people from seeing their inner poverty and wounds.  Friendship is then no longer a spur to grow, to go further, to be of greater service.”

In conclusion, John states, one thing saves us from forming the “you are marvelous” club of mediocrities.  That’s when we live and breathe Jesus in community.

today’s question: How does “outimacy” help you fulfill Jesus’ calling in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The paradox of intimacy – the only path to receiving”

About the author

Dave Henning

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