Monday, December 17, 2012

Does an Evil Act Negate the Gift of Being God's Beloved?

Can someone born a beloved son or daughter of God lose that beloved-ness?  Or is it a gift that remains, regardless of how that person lives their life?

In a talk delivered many years ago at the Crystal Cathedral, Henri Nouwen addressed the beloved-ness that we all, as sons and daughters of God, share – and how our very nature and being reflects the four main parts of the Eucharist.  As with the bread, we, too, are taken, blessed, broken, and given.  It is something that links us all and brings us closer to the experience of God on earth as Jesus.  As Nouwen said, "Your spiritual life - your life as the beloved daughters and sons of God - is a life that is taken, that is blessed, that is broken, and given ... If you can live your life as the taken, the blessed, the broken, the given, the world will recognize Jesus in you.”

Over the past several days, I’ve been struggling with the question of whether a person who commits an evil act still retains the designation of “beloved”.  Their life has the same four elements of being taken, blessed, broken, and given – but to me, it seems the aspect of a beloved nature ends somewhere between blessed and broken.  Just as bread is broken apart during the Eucharist, just as the life of Christ was broken through his crucifixion, the life of a person who commits an act of evil is also broken – but not broken as a sacrifice.  It is broken through hatred, or confusion, or mental disability, or any of a number of other reasons.

Our parish rector, yesterday during a discussion of the events in Connecticut last week, made the point that God doesn’t select one person to receive something good while another receives misery and hardship.  As he put it, “It rains on farms owned by good people just as much as on farms owned by bad people.”

Using this, then, a beloved nature is something that is “rained” upon everyone.  We all receive it, the same as we all receive God’s grace.  But by turning our back on grace – on God’s gift to us – and rejecting our status as beloved children, do we lose it?  Despite weeping over the sins of man, does God still look at all as beloved?