Are You a Human Being, Human Doing, or Human Meeting?
Psalm 46:10 encourages an essential, yet often too quickly given counsel in Christian circles. Be still and know… Our schedules do get away from us and soon we find ourselves going through our relationships, ministries and work as though they were merely motions and missing God and others in our midst (c.f. John 1:14). We are well-reminded we are human beings, not human doings but could it be this is a false dichotomy actually confusing us? Jesus’s statement may press something deeper when he says, “If you love me (more easily understood as a being statement) keep my commands (similarly a doing statement?)? Could it be focusing on being vs. doing that we have lost some of the very Life He desires us to know and for others to know through us? Might we see a more Trinitarian reality if we look beyond the dichotomy?
I confess I grew up and lived long into my adult life as a human doing. I’m still tempted regularly. On the surface it may look like a task-orientation, mission-mindedness, or even an evidenced-based or standardized testing approach to people—the result is the same—a diminished Trinitarian or personal (not individualistic) reality. My preference for rules, my opinions, more efficient leadership models and even theology hampered my relationships in ministry for the first three years with others. This resulted in a one size fits all way of relating to others. It took the love of God mixed with some suffering and so a growing humility to help me slow down and begin to simply be human.
This movement toward being human helped me begin seeing my self less and life more. I sought to live what I had memorized (c.f. Ps. 46:10). It was a difficult transition and slowing down did give me the shakes in some very real sense early on. God’s slowing me down, however, unlocked the vulnerability that would forever change the way I lived. Experiences could finally be experienced, however, this meant all experiences—vulnerability does not allow us to live selectively open to life—which we most typically try to do by labeling things good or bad. This just results in more divisions between us and less vulnerability—less life with God and others. The journey of being human with Jesus has been slow but I’ve found no other way? Have you?
But, being and doing are both important, right? Jesus said, “If you love me…keep my commands…” Sure, another’s presence is irreplaceable but if they do not show that they care we may reasonably question if they really do? He is The Word made flesh. This is not faith vs. works. This is faith (i.e. appreciation for and so trust in God) expressing itself through work (i.e. caring actions for others). Being and doing are equally important but left to their own will leave us navel-gazing or on mission without The Man neither are very helpful. Jesus seems to be beckoning us beyond being and doing into the Trinitarian life we see in him where being and doing is preceded by and flow out of our lives as holy meetings. We are here because of relationships (read meetings) that preceded us and become holy or unholy by our meetings being directed by God or ourselves.
How many times have you and I seen possibilities emerge precisely because we met someone new? Our doing, is preceded by our being, and our being is preceded by our emerging from an already interconnectedness with others. We share a profound sense of connectedness by virtue of being made in the Image of a Triune God. This is why relationship breaks (minor or major), societal injustice, wars, downsizings, unfair lending, exclusionary practices deeply wound our precious humanity. Human meetings, I believe, are God’s chief means of grace for our reconnecting to Him.
Our shift from human doings to beings to meetings roots us more in a Trinitarian reality, which helps us move away from the temptations of Quietism and Pelagian religion to simply loving and being loved in Christ with others. Let us today take a moment yes to be still and know that…God is Trinitarian, and we are made in the Image of this Mutually Humble Meeting of Giving and Receiving always for the common good beyond us. May we know in this Christ Meeting a deeper sense of Life flowing through us, with us and in us to others for Him.
Duke Walker is a regular contributor to the Soul Care Collective.