The earnest will cause the trouble

I have been earnest about more things than I can remember. I AM earnest now about a number of things. But I am starting to realize that the more earnest I am, the more damage I will do. Isn’t it true that the most hurt and pain in communities and the world has come about because of people’s (religions, governments, etc) earnestness for their specific way? We need others to see the world from our perspective. We need them to believe what we believe. We need them to live like we live. Ok, maybe we wouldn’t say we “need” them to be a certain way. Maybe we “demand,” we “insist,” we “plead”… and then we try to fix… or persuade… or imply…

Because, we know better than the other how they should live their lives. Or we know better what God wants for someone’s life. I think the easiest thing the earnest do is to pray. Oh yes, they pray and pray. They feel the pain of their prayers… they pray in earnest. But how do they know that what they are praying for, what they feel so strongly, is what God really wants? I am not saying that I don’t believe in prayer and I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray in earnest… we just must be aware of why we are doing it.

As soon as we NEED someone to be a certain way, we are in trouble. As soon as we NEED God to do make a certain change, we are in trouble. When we NEED something to be a certain way, it is no longer about the other, it is no longer about the Earth, it is no longer about God… it is about US!

Religion, economy, and government have been the prime perpetrators of this earnestness throughout our history… or should I say money, power, “Truth,” and sexuality… we have done so much harm in the world. Something, something must change.

We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves, being accountable to each other, as citizens… not relying on the “leaders” to get the job done (the “right” pastor, the “right” president). We need to start talking about the possibilities of what we can do together rather than the problems (of the other guy, or of ourselves) that need to be fixed. We need to practice hospitality rather than fear (of our neighbor… globally… other religions, nationalities, economic class, etc).

Do I say these things in earnestness? Well… I suppose I do… although I don’t NEED everyone else to be this way in order to do it myself, in order to change the conversations we are having in our own community. I can say, though, that the world itself needs people to shift their perspective. I can say that matter-of-factly, without any personal agenda, that if we do not change, if we do not, we are in serious trouble.

6 thoughts on “The earnest will cause the trouble

  1. Oy! I am impressed.

    Maybe Christianity can be more than a rigid set of rules decided by the interpretation of it’s followers. Maybe it can be life. A great and powerful affirmation to the lost, the scared, the alone. Not a magnet that pulls everyone toward a single path and way of life, but a light that illuminates the dark corners of the world. Not drawing to a point but drawing to a million different points, a million individual points. To draw a million different beautiful pictures.

    Sunsets are beautiful and awe inspiring because not a single one is as the last.


  2. Well said Nate. Being able to let go and let people go through their process, or better yet join them in their process, rather than control the process, takes a large mount of humility, as well as trust in the One who started the process. Your words are in good company with the words from a seer of old…

    He has showed you, O man, what is good.
    And what does the LORD require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

    I just wish I could grasp the humble pie of it better :>


  3. Naters! How do you think earnestness is like passion? according to

    Earnest = Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain or do; zealous with sincerity; with hearty endeavor; heartfelt; fervent; hearty; used in a good sense

    Passion = The state of the mind when it is powerfully acted upon and influenced by something external to itself; the state of any particular faculty which, under such conditions, becomes extremely sensitive or uncontrollably excited

    So maybe the former is more controlled by sense and the latter, by emotion? Hmm.

    I have been feeling what I consider both earnestness and passion lately for lots of things. I agree with what you have to say. But sometimes I am so afraid of being seen as demanding or close-minded that I don’t even open up about my passions. So I think there needs to be a balance between the two. How to get there…I am still trying to figure that out!

    Love you! Thanks for your thoughts. See you in a few weeks. YAY!!!!


  4. Britt, I like your questions.

    To me, earnestness involves others being in on our passion. Passion is what we feel inside ourselves. When it becomes earnestness, we need others to feel, understand, and accept our passion. This doesn’t seem right to me. Passion should be felt and expressed for passion’s sake. If no one else feels it, should our passion die? If it does, I question whether we were really passionate at all.

    I probably wouldn’t make the distinction between sense and emotion. Both are involved in in passion and earnestness. It is the lack of awareness, grace, freedom-giving, etc that turns passion into earnestness.


  5. “Earnest = Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain or do; zealous with sincerity; with hearty endeavor; heartfelt; fervent; hearty; used in a good sense”

    Hmmm….for me earnestness has always held a kernel of integrity to it, or authenticity (at least reaching for it), so I’m not so quick to “judge” earnestness as something less than passion. Yes, “ardent in pursuit of an object” or “…to obtain or do.” certainly speaks to the need to seek, at least validation outside ourselves. But can one be earnest about something an not “need” others being involved?
    Thanks for this rich discussion, Nate. Good to be connected!


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