Listenings: “Cave In”

Everything stops when miners are trapped in a cave in.  The world prays, and the mining company literally “moves heaven and earth” to reach those who are entrapped.  The whole world pays attention when it hears the words, “Cave In!”

Martin Luther defined sin as “the heart turned in upon itself.”  He was connecting with the thoughts of Isaiah who said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way.” (53:6) 

It’s that “turned to own way” stuff which defines the human condition apart from God.  Sin is egotism.  It is choosing to put ourselves at the center rather than God.  It is a spiritual “cave in.”

In 1997 I had the privilege of serving on a team that ministered to Navy Chaplains around the world.  One of our team members was a Jewish Rabbi, Lawrence Kushner.  I’ll never forget him saying that the world would be a completely different place if we would be willing to say one thing:  “God is God; I’m not.” 

But until then, erithea reigns and deforms us through and through.  Like termites that eat away behind the beautifully decorated walls of our homes, sin destroys the fundamental infrastructure of our lives.  And just as sheet rock will not hold up our houses, neither will appearances hold up our souls. 

This is essentially why Jesus did not invite people to be “religious,” but rather to be in relationship with God.  Religion is a wonderful thing when it reflects and inspires a God-centered life.  But when connected to a self-centered life, it becomes another “narcotic” to create an artificial high on the one hand and a deadened heart on the other.

Spiritual formation goes to “the heart of the matter” which is “the matter of the heart.”  It begins with the fundamental deformative condition—erithea.  God shouts, “Cave In!” and then marshalls all the forces of righteousness to enact a rescue.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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