All of us are, without exception, a mixed blessing, says Richard Rohr in his book “The Naked Now”. It’s a good thing to remember. The more aware I am of all the thoughts and feelings that pass through my heart on any given day, the more I see that I am a conglomerate of genius and stupidity, competitive self-aggrandizement and welcoming love, expansive compassion and petty narcissism. And so is everybody else. And while we can all work on our shadow nature, try to keep it from wreaking havoc in the world, the bottom line is that we are still stuck with a dark side that sneaks past our guard pretty frequently.
But on the other hand, we are also all channels of God’s love, partners with God in the realization of God’s dream of heaven coming on earth. We are blessed, even if the blessing is mixed.
In the passage from John that comprises today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is telling the religious authorities why they ought to believe in him. There is a testimony greater than his own and greater than that of any other human being as well, he says. God testifies on his behalf. God does this through the works God has given him to do.
As I was reading this I was envisioning all those miraculous healings Jesus performed, all those inspired teachings, and then the parables with their endless ability to surprise and enlighten. I was admiring Jesus’ ability to be deeply and fully himself. He must have been completely transparent, completely open to God at the very center of his being.
And that made me wonder – how would God testify on my behalf? How would God testify on behalf of any one of us? What would God say? If we are to be followers of Jesus, not just passive worshipers, surely that question is worth considering.
My default understanding of God’s judgment is sort of like Santa Claus: “he knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.” And yet I know, when I really think about it, that when God uses me, God uses the whole of me not just the parts I have distilled out and labeled “good”. God’s judgment of me is not some tally at the end of my life, some cosmic balance sheet. God’s judgment of me is present always, just as God is present always, and it sees me whole and uses me whole, presenting endless creative opportunities.
Perhaps God testifies on behalf of me, just like God testifies on behalf of Jesus, through the works God has given me to do. The more authentically “me” I become, the better I get at doing what I was created to do – in all its various forms and guises. I become more transparent to the Holy. I take my place with the rest of humanity. Though most undoubtedly mixed I am nevertheless a blessing.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado