Ways of Christ

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Part 3 several topics, practical and biblical questions

Lamentation as a possible part of Christian practice.

Some strict Christian teachings give the one-sided impression that Christians should rather resign themselves to their fate and not lament too much about the developments of the world. They may pray for improvement or do something for it, but to complain bitterly to God about something - see lament(ation) in the Old Testament - is rare. It is more likely to be found in literature such as "Don Camillo and Peppone", but it is rarely taught officially in churches. It is more likely to occur in private prayers. Although we do not recommend Christians to copy the Jewish practice at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, that practice shows that complaining to God might be a very important part of Christian life.

If the specific Christian values and promises - for instance of the Sermon on the Mount Mt. 5:5 "The meek shall inherit the earth" are compared with the tendencies still predominating in the world, one might think that Christians are unable to deal with promises. Biblical promise is no noncommittal mercy, which may or may not come - and which exists too. A promise is a promise; the time when it will be fulfilled may depend on the maturity of man, and/or on prayers. 
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"The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing". Mt.11:12.]

It was no longer clear as to who or what was being complained about: is it right to complain about other people? Or about devilish powers, that may have tempted people - argued away by some theologians? Both may have been partly responsible. Or one may stress the idea that "evil has been permitted" (with some human thoughts, for instance "because people must learn to distinguish"). However, is God himself the only "(stage) director" who can permit something or not, and so works out his "rules"? It would be too simple to ascribe the evil(s) in the world or every "allowance" to God himself. In the first centuries, the Early Fathers - still respected by Churches because of other teachings - wrote about the hierarchies of angels which are handed down - standing between God and man (and other creatures). The gnostics also spoke about so-called "Archonts", often having problematic qualities. Other cultures have taken up such experiences in their way, for instance the Tibetan "book of the dead" is filled with recommendations on how to deal with such beings after death. As far as the basic or most important affairs are concerned, beyond the small-minded reciprocal reproaches of people, one may find some day that there is a 'director' - not fully free of errors, below God himself, but very "high" compared with man or with negative powers. This recognition is a contribution to the old philosophical question of the "theodicy", and/or the relation of Got to the evil in the world.

Conclusions: indeed it is possible to complain to God, meaning that he is the right one to talk to, but it makes no sense to complain about him. This complaint may include offering one's insights with their related emotions up to God, even if these feelings include being angry with injustice instead of being sad (Mt. 5:6). Because the solution is left to God, this complaint is actually a special kind of intensive prayer. Nevertheless, the love and deep respect for God and/or Jesus Christ is part of it, thereby offering some protection from becoming addicted to pure negativity, which would not lead to God, but rather elsewhere.

Another way is firstly to let the emotions calm so that a classical pure prayer becomes possible, bringing everything as thanks or a request towards God. Surely it is the proper attitude towards God to pray in this way. However, it is permitted to complain as mentioned above, if it is honest (authentic) and seems to be necessary.

General viewpoints concerning prayer

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