We live in a world that seems to be more divided than ever before. The issues that separate culture today are sharp and complex. We have seen the news. Race. Gender identity. Inequality. Corruption. Poverty. Terrorism. In this harsh setting, many christians feel utterly puzzled when it comes to expressing their faith in an effective and compelling way. Often times we don’t even know where to start.
Scripture calls the people of God to be a powerful missionary force of love, wisdom and healing in a world that is continually falling apart. Something is deeply missing in the lives of many christians today. They seem to be totally blind to the power of the answers that they hold.
The problem is that many of us have been raised in the religious setting but have never really asked ourselves how our christian convictions fit into the broader landscape of ideas that fill this world. We may have accepted our christianity as our faith system but we have never asked how it extents to all of life, or how it interacts with the big questions that every person around us is asking.
How does the gospel pass from simply being our private Sunday morning routine to empowering our thinking, speaking and action in every aspect of culture and society? How do we learn to think as christians in an anti-christian society? How do we deal with the complex line of questions that are fired at the church today?
These are just some of the questions that we will ask at this year’s youth retreat. Join us for a stimulating, challenging and empowering time of rooting ourselves deeper into the true power of the gospel for all of life.
Have you read stunning story about the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo? Or did you read the OTHER story, the one about explosive outcry all over the country in defense of the gorilla? To me, the second one is the bigger story. A petition on change.org has gathered over 300,000 supporters, protesting the killing of the gorilla, as well as charging the parents with negligence.
Throughout the massive public outcry that has resulted, an article in the Huffington Post asks an important question – “Whatever happened to empathy?” Many have been shocked that such a judgmental and harsh reaction has blown up to judge the mother and the decision making of the zookeepers.
The conversations today are full of the fight for liberty. We are told that we must throw off the chains of oppression and marginalization and fight for true freedom. What is seldom answered however, is freedom to what??
This pushes us up against the next big question, what is true freedom? Anytime you try to answer this question you are going to inevitably bring in some sort of moral judgement. We must be freed from such and such evil in order that we may experience such and such good. Anytime we are talking about fighting for freedom we are talking about liberating humanity from some sort of wrong state and into some sort of, more right, state. In essence we are talking about a right way to live, a order for life the way it should be.
These past couple of months have been a whirlwind. I’ve been working more hours than ever. In the small amount of time that I have off I have been attempting to push my schooling to a close, in addition to church work, home chores and spending time with my amazing little family. These seasons of intense work and limited time have come on more frequently over the past 18 months. I guess this is a part of growing in maturity of perspective – we start to see more and more important things that we need to invest our lives into.
As I have mentioned before this is a good kind of challenge. Although at times exhausting, it is an enriching and fulfilling kind of exhaustion. In addition to this, it is also bringing me more and more aware of the finitude of my humanity.
The more good things I see around me the more I see how unable I am to meet all the needs and opportunities that surround me. The world is a great big booming carnival and I am just a small kid with a balloon and one of those, all access bracelets. It is a task far beyond my capacity to properly take it all in. It all looks so good and so important. Where do I even start? How do I make sure I make the right choices? What if I miss a crucial opportunity? What if I make a big mistake? The music and rides and neon colors almost start to get a bit intimidating..scary even.
There is, I think, only one way to really live in peace among all the blinking lights and attractions – the infinite-personal God. Ultimately, he is in charge. I cannot contain the chaos. I cannot rise above it and make perfect decisions. But he does. In him, all things hold together and he is before all things. He is the head of all creation. He calls it out and it follows him. This vast and crazy swirling mass I call the universe is actually one great dance. His epic masterpiece.
Even though it is often far beyond me, my place in it is not. His call to me is not to take control, to be omniscient or to rise above it. His call to me is to follow him daily. To let him paint his pictures, rouse the nations, shake the earth and calm the seas.
This is the source of me sanity and my peace. Let God be God. Let God be my God. Every day is a gift. It is his project. I will give my all; let myself be spent on the great things he sends my way. I will have to leave much undone but I know that he won’t. Most importantly, I will enjoy the dance.
Where do we find that true sense of identity and personality for which we so deeply long? We may look inward, thinking that we are the greatest and most complex beings that exist. We can set ourselves high on a pedestal. We can spend our whole life trying to prove to ourselves and everyone around that we are as good as we imagine.
Or we can see it slightly differently. We can see our personality as a reflection of the greater light from which which we get our being. We can see that we are vessels, and that the glory to which we strive cannot indeed be contained in this little world. We can see that our true greatness lies in the greatness of the One to whom we owe our breath.
Thus there are two ways to personality. There is the bondage of working hard to live up to the standard that we set for ourselves and hoping that it will deliver. Or there is the liberty of opening our doors to our need in our Maker, and letting him welcome us home. C. S. Lewis puts it this way:
“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”¹
- Beyond Personality, C. S. Lewis (1944).