Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Becoming “Inoffend-ible”

“That damn crow,” I gasped mentally, in a fit of internal rage, as the bird flew by boisterously—stimulating the process (with other stimuli) of a proliferation of confused, chaotic thoughts; perplexed was I to the presence of a world seemingly opposed to my personal peace! Nothing going right—all things going haywire. No sense. No meaning. No hope! Despair in a word.

When the place of hopelessness is reached, even heaven can’t help that person—not right in the midst of it. A sort of dystopia of the mind and spirit, the world’s running either way too fast or way too slow for us.

This is an inner world which, for the moment, can’t be reconciled—only surrendered to. There are a vast number of circumstances which can intuit the despairing response, not simply boisterous crows in the midst of other problems. We all know this, yet we often live life without that sense of stimulus causing us to ask why, and then to reconcile the matter of our visceral anger, if that’s possible.

To establish calm a process is required. There are no overnight solutions. Or if the solution is an overnight one, it’s a returning to the old long-lost, tried and tested formula. We give in to it. We let it sweep over us.

We forget something. We want to live gently with the world and at peace with ourselves. Any spiritually sane person does.

In the midst of the moment we surrender, but in the meantime we train.

We train ourselves in calm weather to become inoffendible (which actually is not a word recognised in the English language). We’re trying to capture the essence of the Greek word, epieikes, meaning “a humble, patient steadfastness, which is able to submit to injustice, disgrace, and maltreatment without hatred and malice, trusting in God in spite of all of it.”[1] (See also Philippians 4:5)

We find here the demonstrable concept of the peace of maturity pervading all (or most) life situations before us—real spiritual maturity.

At the practical end we look forward to offences being “bestowed” upon us as we see these as opportunities to practice our epieikes a.k.a. gentleness. We expect it and even cater for it, not in a cowardly submission, but in a resilient stoic sort of spirit that endures—one that absorbs.

We cater for it in advance knowing that in truth it is coming; it’s right on our doorstep—in fact, here it is, right now. And we know that if we don’t cater for it we will only let ourselves be upset, and if that happens, some others also will inevitably become upset because of us.

No matter the places we arrive at or are destined for, we’ll always need to deal with this issue—dystopia or utopia—the personal world destination of each abounds! Which way is our choosing.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] From Leivestad, cited in Fritz Reinecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1976, 1980), p. 560.

No comments: