How we “stand” affects what we “do”
Sooner or later in our lives we are confronted with two basic, yet important, dilemmas. 1) What do we do with the reality that the world we live in seems so broken? Even in our lives, those closest to us, our own society, our own families, our own relationships and yes even us – seem to stand in some state of constant incompleteness, brokenness. 2) How then are we to live through or in a world, society, relationships or our own reality that is broken? What are we to do in the middle of this kind of life so that we might hope to find some sort of ultimate meaning if this is true?
Base line cultural thought that seems to be offered to us right now, in dealing with brokenness is basically summed up this way, “Have a good idea of yourself and that your idea of yourself is good.” This solution played out offers “salvation” through self-discovery, self-expression, self-fulfillment and by bolstering self worth until it overflows into self-realization. The pinnacle of this answer would be that there are no boundaries for those who can hope in themselves.
There is a close cousin in the context of religious thought that is offered to those who claim to find fulfillment in their spiritual endeavours. It’s in the teachings that say we are born morally neutral and then make negative choices based upon societies influences. It’s found in the teachings that our “salvation” is found in merely following the examples of our spiritual gurus or mantras. That if we just live higher lives of moral right then we can expect our Higher Powers to smile on us and that by making the right choices we will find a higher spiritual experience in our lives.
The first example has developed as a kind of philosophical Bohemianism that many of the modern young urbanites, have to various degrees, embraced. This line of thinking can be seen as both an answer to North American capitalism and as a justification for living out of the productivity of becoming ‘me’. The second is the basic tenants of Plagianism. In the end, from a theological perspective I would say that both are based on and in a humanistic hope of moralism – I can make myself what I am supposed to be. I can be my transformation, my reality, my salvation.
Why is this rolling around in my head? It’s been a tough season. We have sat front row to a lot of brokenness lately: 1. Our immediate family has felt the long dark fingers of cancer stretch unwelcome into our personal lives, hopes and dreams. Stealing away the possibilities of just living for comfort and leaving in it’s wake a flood of anxiety, sorrow and even despair. 2. I personally, have sat with or journeyed beside or have watched with uncertainty of what even to offer, as people we love have turned simply to embrace their greatest longings. To do this they throw off restraint, lead with their heart. Exchange moral boundaries for what might satisfy their longings. Justify personal compromise by substituting conviction with happiness. The results have been similar; The promised delight, satisfaction and longing have left most of these dear friends in anxiety, sorrow and even, for some, despair.
Simply put – standing on the promises that are offered by doing self-discovery, self-expression, self-fulfillment as a means to bolstering our self-worth so we will finally overflow in a nirvana of self-realization doesn’t hold up to the realities of brokenness that we all will face. I would argue this sort of moralism fails us and leaves us in various states of confusion and lostness.
Jeopardizing the line of logic that might bring these thoughts to something that is more than mere Christian platitude, for sake of length, I would want to point us to a firmer standing that can realize a truer doing in the face of our experience of brokenness – “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” – Jesus –
I know I may have just lost a bunch of potential readers by pointing so non-shamed-facedly to Jesus and, agreeably, in such a trite manner. But I intend that there will be the weight load of more blogs that will not simply add to Christian platitudes but will some how wrestle out such audacious claims that life’s meaning is not discovered through abandoning self to self, nor is it lived on a higher plane of religious consciousness (hoping to move above the need for self-healing) but in the person and work of Jesus. There is a solution or a deeper meaning to both self discovery and the boundaries of brokenness and it is given to us most clearly by God himself in the sending of His Son- Jesus.
But more on this later and over longer periods of writing.
Thanks for reading