Christians are meant to be the visible compassion of God on earth more than “those who are going to heaven.” They are the leaven who agree to share the fate of God for the life of the world now, and thus keep the whole batch of dough from falling back on itself. A Christian is invited, not required to accept and live the cruciform shape of all reality.
The Eucharist is an encounter of the heart, knowing Presence through our own offered presence. In the Eucharist, we move beyond mere words or rational thought and go to that place where we don’t talk about the Mystery anymore; we begin to chew on it. Jesus did not say, “Think about this” or “Stare at this” or even “Worship this.” Instead he said, “Eat this!”
Without an evolutionary worldview, Christianity does not really understand, much less foster, growth or change. Nor does it know how to respect and support where history is heading.
God keeps creating things from the inside out, so they are forever yearning, developing, growing, and changing for the good. This is the fire he has cast upon the earth, the generative force implanted in all living things, which grows things both from within—because they are programmed for it—and from without—by taking in sun, food, and water.
And so the writer of Jonah told a story of God’s expansive mercy for non-Israelites; in other words, maybe God cares for other people too. And the author used as his illustration a clearly fictionalized account of their long-gone ancient foe to express his newfound belief, or at least hope, that God is more inclusive than they were giving God credit for.
If a voice comes from accusation and leads to accusation, it is quite simply the voice of the “Accuser,” which is the literal meaning of the biblical word “Satan.” Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. It is how we talk. God is supremely nonviolent, and I have learned that from the saints and mystics that I have read and met and heard about.
Mere obedience is far too often a detour around actual love. Obedience is usually about cleaning up, love is about waking up.