Rich Paxson

In what ways is your understanding of what God requires from religious people changing? What does it mean to be a good religious person?

My duplicity seems so ingrained that when my falsity and my awareness of it occur simultaneously, then at first I see it as someone else’s. I think, did I say that? Or, did I really just agree to that contract so deeply unfair to the workers? Why did I say no so quickly when asked to say a prayer at a social event? Do I really lack the patience just to listen to what this person is saying? Did I have to honk the horn at that young driver in the intersection. Didn’t the frightened look on her face tell me something about the impact of my impatience?

Generally, I’ve thought of myself as the one searching for God’s presence. As recently as a month ago in this Discussion Forum I wrote : “The concept of progressive revelation gives me the space to discover, to learn the dimensions of the concavity of God’s presence in my life.” A month ago I searched. Now I am beginning to discover that the quest is not mine, but belongs to the Forgiving Victim who pursues me! And I, to some rich and to all no longer a young man; I cannot yet sell all that I have and follow.

So yes, my understanding of living a good religious life is changing. I think of the parable of the coin stamped with Caesar’s image. Jesus said render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s; and unto God that which is God’s. The enduring image stamped onto my life is not Caesar, but the image of God. What I am discovering here is how deeply the sediment of my selfish needs have buried God’s image. And yet still, the Forgiving Victim brings the quickening rains of revelation to cut first gullies and then ravines into the flatlands of my complaisance.