“Interior examination is a commitment we all must give ourselves to, through God’s grace. But note that his grace turns us inward for the sake of self-awareness, confession, and ultimately love. This process, in the paradoxical beauty of God’s way, ends with us growing in our outward love.”- Rich Villodas
Rich Villodas continues Chapter 1 of Good and Beautiful and Kind with the observation that sin, in contrast to love, causes us to desire an illusion. Hence, as we curve inward, we center the world on our comfort, security, fear, desire, and personal perspective. As a result, we leave little room for God – or anyone else. In addition, Rich notes, sin’s never personal, never private.
So, the tendency to turn inward binds this world to sin. Consequently, Rich takes a look at three stories in the first eleven chapters of Genesis to demonstrate this reality. We take a look at the first two accounts today.
1. Adam and Eve: Turning inward through grasping. Satan tempts Adam and Eve to grasp a prerogative that belongs solely to God. Thus, they look within and succumb to a form of grasping, of spiritual greed.
2. Cain and Abel: Turning inward through envy. Few of us, Pastor Villodas notes, admit to feelings of envy. Because we view jealousy as something beneath our dignity, something too petty to feel proud about. Yet, the author sees jealousy as one of the most pervasive and destructive forces on the planet. Above all, it’s more deeply ingrained in all of us than we normally have the courage to admit.
In addition, we often display envy in regard to the things that matter most to us. Therefore, jealousy reveals the idols of our hearts. Cain’s envy produced an imaginary world. His ‘paradise’ could only exist if he eliminated Abel from it — a zero-sum game. Cain tried to make outward reality resemble his stunted, cramped inner one. A sin repeated through the ages.
Today’s question: How does interior examination foster outward love in you? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “An act of solidarity – confession”