Thursday, February 12, 2009

It has recently come to my attention that people actually want to hear what I have to say about things, or at least that in some strange way I entertain. I was asked by a friend to write about something so apparently (I don't know why) some of you people want to read what comes out of the random box that is my head. I don't know what I’m going to write about. I have nothing planned. However I am a firm believer that the most organic and beautiful things in life happen out of spontaneity... Anyway, basically what I’m doing right now is suffering from writers block (a fancy term for NO I DON'T WANT TO WRITE THAT STUPID TAKE HOME TEST ON CONTEMPORARY THEOLOGY!!!) I've got nothing against contemporary theology, especially Neo-Orthodox theology (so far I love it... Reinhold Niebuhr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and some others) but I can't think of anything that makes sense in English as far as my thesis is concerned.... awkward pause..........silence.........sniff, sniff......uhhhhhhhhh.....hmmm....cough, cough. OH!

Right, where were we? Oh yeah what the heck am I going to write about?! Well, here is an idea, I recently got into a debate with a few friends, arguing which was worse:

1. Missing some one
2. Having No ONE to miss
3. Missing some one knowing they are not missing you

In my present state of being I suffer from the bitter, bitter #1. I have friends in each of these categories. I'm not going lie, you start to worry about yourself and your friends when you realize that you're all casually debating which one of you is the most depressed.... oh well sometimes life is a competition--yet in this case we all recognize that the winner is the biggest loser.....
(From Avenue Q) "it sucks to be me! it sucks to be me. It sucks to be broke and unemployed and turning thirty-three. It sucks to be me....."

Well this is pretty sad but this post isn't about how much my life sucks. I love my life and I feel humbled knowing God has blessed me with so much.
I guess the whole point of this is that when we are GOING through pain it seems to us that the pain is the worst pain we have ever felt. In some strange way because pain is temporary we never fully remember how much it hurt going through that thing we did when we were going through it.
When I hack sawed my finger this summer I never thought, man this hurts but it wasn't as bad as when I got my fifth ingrown toenail surgery without a numbing agent.... (true story)

When I was in the heat of the moment the pain I was feeling was intense and real and "the worst pain ever." Yes, I speak out of ignorance full knowingly because I realize I am not a woman. I will never feel the intensity of birthing a child. Yikes! I may one day pass a kidney stone (God forbid) but even then I won't be able to say that I have felt more pain than the next guy or gal.

Pain is all relative and it sucks the most in its own present context. Its like our memories have some sort of defense and blot out the full reality of what we felt in the past. Of course our brains can recall bits and pieces of a particular horrific experience (physical, emotional, spiritual) but we still never fully go back to that low place. This is a good thing.

Going back to the three questions, I know I am #1 because the love of my life lives in Dallas and I am in Kansas City. Yes it is hard but SO WORTH IT! Faith, hope, and love keep me here. For me, missing some one is the worst (because I am experiencing it!) and for my other friends, their specific situations are far worse in their own minds. Even if they have been in a similar experience in a different category they will probably still choose their present state as the worst. I may be wrong or other generalizing but if you think so remember this the next time you feel pain and see if I am incorrect then. Bring it on. I welcome criticism!

In practical application to this post I guess you should take away a more urgent necessity for a greater sensitivity to the suffering around you. Its everywhere. We live in a broken world full of broken people wracked with pain. In our own pride we think well they aren't me, or heck, they haven't felt pain till they have experienced X... that is so selfish. We are so selfish. I think it's about empathy and bearing burdens. Whatever it is, pain always seems to be more endurable when we are sharing it with others. Partake in each other's sufferings. For me this is a sort of theology. Wow....organic spontaneity of writing on the breeze of a thought... I have come full circle as this is the very core of Bonhoeffer's theology: living fully in the world and sharing in its suffering with our suffering God who has felt it all.

This brings me to my last point. Too many Christians live by the saying "In the world, but not of the world." People who default to this now meaningless idea from the Bible usually emphasize the latter portion of the saying. NOT OF THE WORLD. These day dreamers say this in a sort of legalistic fashion and a touch of holier than thou attitude to get out of doing something or going along with something they "don't believe in or support." Its different for different people and we all do it--this is not to say Christians should DO EVERYTHING--if you are reading that then just give up....cause your pride has taken you out of this discussion already...

ROMANS 8:17...if indeed Christ endured and took on the suffering of the whole world, we too are called to endure in its suffering. This means that we must suffer along with the world. It’s time to put to death this false notion that Christians are "better" "perfect" or above the rest of the world. We are REAL people who are broken and feel pain and are in need of a God who can bring about something beautiful through our suffering. I think that is why so many are turned off from Christianity... it seems that somewhere along the way we forgot how to be human. I apologize for being preachy, but give me an Amen if you resonate.

Back to the people who are stuck in the NOT OF THE WORLD mindset...
They are like children who in anticipating recess forget to do their assignments sitting in front of their noses. The Teacher (Capital T for allegory ; )) walks around the room growing ever impatient and worrisome over the foolish boys and girls sitting as drones gazing and itching, eyes stuck on the clock. They may miss out on their education......Recess will come when it will. The task before us is what our focus should be. We can't shy away from pain and suffering in a world filled full to the brim with grief. We can't recluse into this non-human state of dreaming for better times and for God to come rescue us from our horrible ("not supposed to happen to Christians") pain. We cannot get stuck waiting for heaven or for change to just happen supernaturally. Now please don't misinterpret I am completely 100% a believer of God's Sovereignty and Grace, His Provision and radically life altering power--I just think we have free will too (ohh controversy, FREE WILL!!!).

Further more don't interpret me as condemning people who are excited over the idea of heaven or being with God in eternity or the Kingdom of God being fully established on Earth. But how can God establish His Kingdom on Earth if His people have their heads stuck in the clouds? Don't get me wrong, I am excited too!! Rather I am reminding us (especially myself) that we have a job to do and there is pain involved...it must be endured, used and shared. God cannot be our "get out of jail free card" in the life game of Monopoly. The stakes are too high and there is too much injustice and suffering to simply be brought out of the game every time we get our feelings or our little fingers hurt.

SO, in conclusion, embrace the season you are in no matter what. God has you there for a purpose. It is not just to get you to that next season of happiness (Lord knows what's next!). There are lessons to be learned and there is work to be done. God isn't a magic wish machine to grant us our selfish and tainted American Dreams. God is our joy in the midst of all and nothing...In Christ..... He is the Meaning and Centre of everything....In pain and sorrow, in sickness and health till death do us join....AMEN!

of course....I could be wrong........

"I discovered later, and I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith." --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sorry this was a book.... I can't ever find an end to the things I want to say...

3 comments:

  1. Thanks bro. I appreciate you taking my advice. See, you have great things to say. And we do read it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good stuff, son! I want to add a further thread- being "in the world, but not of it" in the context of the passage refers to avoiding sin and even the appearance of it. It definitely is not meaningless or archaic- it encourages us to be present fully in this life, but to avoid sin while we are involved working with and for others, for the good of the Kingdom. Thanks for an awesome blog- in the words of "Frank" (Martin Short in "Father of the Bride")- "Ve need his (your) mind!" :) Keep it up! Mom

    ReplyDelete