Sunday, April 11, 2021

Imperfect Devotion - Ishvara Pranidhana

I John 1:1-2:2

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.


There is nothing more frustrating than hearing someone say. “Why do Christians bother to be good when Jesus already forgives them?” or any version of this you might imagine.  Jesus’ atonement for our sins is not a get out of jail free card that many think It is.  We are tasked in this passage from 1 John to walk in the light, imperfectly, but always trying to do good.  And we will fail, oh we fail big time! But that doesn’t mean we don’t try and try and try and try.

As an iRest meditation teacher I am always struck by opposites and in this scripture there are some opposites: light - dark, truth – lie, and no sin – sin. But what does light mean if you have never experienced dark, or no sin mean if you haven’t experienced sin? The full appreciation of a life well lived is in its imperfection and the knowledge that even if we fail, God still loves us.  This is a gift undeserved yet freely given. The inmate on death row, and the disobedient child both deserve God’s forgiveness. But only if confessed truthfully, if we lie and say we are without sin then how can we be forgiven? We are called to follow Jesus’ example of how to live, knowing we will fail, knowing we can try again, surrendering to God’s will for us.  In Yoga this surrender is called Ishvara Pranidhana.  

Surrendering to a higher power simply is the recognition that we are imperfect. That through releasing power, engaging in the right action, accepting what is, and devoting ourselves to always doing better in the honor of the divine we are on the path to perfection or nirvana.* This path does not include recklessly sinning but constant trying to do better and asking for forgiveness when we fail.


*Adele, Deborah – The Yamas and Niyamas



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