Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Questions & (maybe) Answers

My friend Scott posted a series of questions on his blog:

  1. At what point do we, in the church, get truly serious about weighing all scripture through the person of Jesus Christ? Isn’t He the resting place for all of our conclusions and approaches to living and loving?
  2. Will we ever break away from our proclivity to proof-text our rationales for war, propagating poverty and elevating our spheres of concern over above the needs of those who fall outside of those spheres? God commanding war in the OT is not a good enough reason for me to blindly embrace armed conflict today.
  3. What moral obligation do I have to reduce poverty and be a voice for the least of these? How far-reaching is that? How much does that affect what I buy, where I shop, etc?
  4. Could it be that we have completely blown Romans 13 out of proportion and twisted it completely into an unrecognizable form from its original intent?
  5. What does a true ethic of life consist of? How can I be pro-life and accept the needless death of any individual?
  6. When did faith get confused with certainty on every moral question?
  7. If the greatest commandments are all that, shouldn’t we be focusing a whole lot more on what it means to love God and love people?
  8. Can we lay aside our personal disgust on sins that particularly rankle us to have an open discussion about the true make-up of sinful behavior?
  9. Have we so marginalized women in the church that they have no outlet for their gifts and talents? If so, when do we emerge from our patriarichal stone-age?
  10. Is there a cure for the frustrations I feel? I’m not getting much sleep right now.

To which I made the following response:

Scott -

  1. Now
  2. No
  3. With every fiber of your being - with every dollar, every decision, every vote
  4. Yes.
  5. It consists of being consistent, which we are often not
  6. At the very moment we came to see life as a series of right and wrong choices instead of as a journey from the housse of fear to the house of love (Nouwen); when we gave up on the promise of the Kingdom to unite all humanity under God’s love and instead came to see humanity as our enemy to be proselytized or condemned
  7. See previous in 6 above
  8. I doubt it
  9. Yes.
  10. Yes. But you won’t like it.

I pray and submit that the above responses are ill-considered, rash and irreverant.

All laughing aside, I wrestle with these same questions.

But it seems that at the end of the day, it's not about what we believe on these topics as much as it is how we live out each and every day of our lives trying to be like Jesus. I go back to my theory that the less I wonder and worry about humanity as a group and the more I worry about individuals I actually know, the more I am like Jesus. Simply put, to have a plan to address poverty is good; but to give someone, today, something they desperately need, is best.

My final post in the series:

[T]he problem with answers is that generally, I really don’t like them or they just raise more questions!

And I guess that’s really the basis to how I would respond to a lot of the questions you raise.

I think we are supposed to be in tension and frustration. I think modern evangelical language and shallow theology have led a lot of Christians to believe that real “faith” results in comfort, peace, assurance and clarity. God, I hope not!

Real faith ought to make us restless, angry, nervous, anxious and, yes, frustrated.

Further, I’m pretty confident that clarity (of purpose, of direction, etc.) is low on God’s list of “things to provide to My followers”.

As long as we live in a fallen world, our list of unanswered questions is going to be lengthy. I think we underestimate how fundamentally the fabric of the universe was rent when humanity began this long diversion: one of the great haunts of human history has been the Law of Unintended Consequences. We labor under the belief that we can solve problems and make things better. Only to discover that our solutions only create new problems - or move the old ones to a different point of manifestation.

This is what it means to be incomplete - to see only in part, as through a veil. Our answers will haunt us as much as the questions they sought to resolve. And on and on. Until He comes.

And the most frustrating part of it all is that knowing these very things, we are, if we are lucky, helpless to stop trying - helpless to cease our efforts to solve the problems.

I think that in some small way this holy, unrelenting, damnable frustration we experience is like what Jesus must have felt on that hill overlooking Jerusalem:

“…but you would not…you would not”

1 comment:

scott said...

Great thoughts. Part of my thinking right now is trying to understand better the differences between my sphere of influence and my sphere of concern.
Obviously, my sphere of influence is largely relegated to those I have immediate contact with: family, church, friends, etc.
My sphere of concern, however, must be larger, right? What that means practically, I don't know you.
I know Jesus worked on these two planes (to mix the metaphor). He used His sphere of influence to change His sphere of concern, which was all people.
How do I do that? Equipping, training, encouraging, contributing, etc.
You are so right. I can't stop the frustration and the wrestling with how best to live like Christ.
Thanks for the challenging.