Today’s Lectio Divina:
Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too. 1stCorinthians 10: 23-24, 31-33 (MsgB)
Ignatian Truth #1: Ignatian spirituality is all about the Spiritual Exercise. Every person’s journey with God is unique, so any spiritual discipline we enter into with the intention of opening ourselves up to God is good. Adaptability with creativity is needed as each person journeys alongside Jesus.
Over the last few years, as my wife, Sandy, and I have accompanied many people through the Ignatian Exercises, one of the most common responses we find is that overwhelming, driving desire in our lives to do things ‘right.’
As we discussed last time, there seems to be this gnawing reality in most spirituality that God is looking for perfection from His people (i.e. “be perfect because God is perfect”) and anything less than perfection will not cut it in the Kingdom of God.
So today, to that mentality, please allow me to politely say, “Humbug!”
As we see in today’s scripture reading, Paul found himself battling that same spirit of religious legalism as it was rearing its ugly head in Corinth. Apparently, after Paul left his friends, moving on in his church-planting mission, some well-meaning but down-right hideous law-keepers began circulating rumors, insisting that Christ-followers return to a life of legalistic do’s and don’ts lest they fall under the judgment of God.
When Paul caught wind of this religious nonsense, he fired back a couple of fiery letters that, to this day, need to be read and re-read by those who feel that it’s their duty to be the doctrinal-police, warning the body of Christ about how we must live a perfect life before God will do anything on our behalf.
Or, as Paul might call it…cow-dung! (see Philippians 3: 8)
You see, as you and I progress through the Spiritual Exercises, the temptation will be to keep up with the program, or stay on top of every daily assignment, or do the work perfectly, lest you, heaven forbid, fail the process.
But know this.
The only way you can fail at the Exercises is to walk away from them! Everything else, including your half-hearted, feeble attempt to do the work is satisfactory in the heart of God. Our good friend, Larry Warner, author of Journey With Jesus: Discovering The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, says it this way…
If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing poorly.
Did you catch that?
Walking through the Exercises is a personalized journey with Jesus. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. No cookie-cutter process.
Your way, quite honestly, is the best way. Oh yes, it truly helps to have a spiritual director walk with you as you travel. But if that director is worth their salt, they will suggest to you to find your own creative pace, discover your own set of tools, and experiment with a variety of spiritual disciplines that will best align with you and Jesus walking hand-in-hand along the way. We’ll be sharing more on these tools later in this blog series, but for now…be free!
Again, referencing our friend, Larry Warner …if the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius are worth doing at all (and they are!) …then please, give yourself the freedom to do them poorly!
Take my word for it, Jesus will meet you along the way!
My prayer: Jesus, as Paul states it, there’s a place for accuracy and rightness but never at the cost of losing the precious freedom I find only in following You! Holy Spirit, as I enter into the Exercises, give me the grace to do my best, but never allow me to become so legalistic that all the joy in the journey is lost. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: So, what might freedom in doing the Spiritual Exercises look like for me? Can I be open to my imagination, my creativity, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct me and guide me in ways that just might color outside the lines of my religious traditions?
How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today?
Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.
If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!
Click here to go on to the next blog/podcast in this series…
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