An old favorite quote by Thomas Merton was brought back to mind as I read a new favorite section in the Jurgen Moltmann book I’m digging into.

In No Man is an Island, Thomas Merton says:

This discovery of Christ is never genuine if it is nothing but a flight from ourselves. On the contrary, it cannot be an escape. It must be a fulfillment. I cannot discover God in myself and myself in Him unless I have the courage to face myself exactly as I am, with all my limitations, and to accept others as they are, with all their limitations. The religious answer is not religious if it is not fully real. Evasion is the answer of superstition.

And, in The Passion of Life, Jurgen Moltmann echoes similar thoughts, but adds an additional angle of light to Merton’s insight:

A life which is worthy of the gospel liberates us to be ourselves and fills us with the powers of the Spirit. We are enabled to give ourselves up and trust ourselves to the leading of the Spirit. Then we are able to accept ourselves just as we are, with our possibilities and limitations, and thereby gain a new spontaneity. We are freed to live with God in the covenant of freedom. The life worthy of the gospel also has its discipline, but it is the discipline of love and joy, not the discipline of anxiety under the threat of the law.

From The Passion of Life

I resonate strongly with the notion that rigorous, dogmatic compliance with a set of cultural norms or a perceived “correct” way of being or doing, is the exact opposite of the gospel, which is freedom—and, furthermore, that accepting ourselves and others is the first step toward such a way of living.