Friday, October 05, 2007

Life in the Mess

I have been sitting in class all week and while it would be overstating it to say this class has rocked my world there is a true sense in which it has turned my world upside down and set it right-side up again. Put it this way: Think about a snowglobe.

You know how the snow-globe looks alright when it is just sitting there, but frankly it is just another paperweight? It goes largely unnoticed. It is boring. It isn’t right—in the sense that it is not fulfilling its purpose. Something is wrong about it. But when it is turned upside down and back over again it comes to life in the hands of its owner. That’s what it feels like to me when truth is allowed to break into my world. It is unsettling. I am turned upside down. But it is worth it, for through the process I am brought to right and come to life again.

It isn’t that this class told me something I never knew (although there were many things I’d never thought of before)---but it articulated for me what has until now been at base a groaning in my soul. This groaning has been driving me forward in a striving for truth and left me unsettled over all the explanations that fall short. It was a class called "Life in the Mess: Theology of Forgiveness and Reconciliation". If you consider it worthwhile to spend a week and about $800 on a better way to look at life you should take this class next time it is offered. I’m serious. Dr. David Guretzki, Briercrest Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan—A treasure hidden in a field, you might say.

I can’t even contain in one blog (and maybe couldn't even do so in a book) what has been put right for me as my snow-globe has been turned over and shaken again this week. But here’s a weak attempt: Imagine you’ve always looked at life in this way:

You are bad. You are going to burn. You need fire insurance. Thankfully someone died to forgive you. Phew. Enter a religion of cyclical and personal release from guilt and fear. Basically a negative religion, defined about what it undoes.

Now imagine that, though there are elements of truth there, you realized that you’d only seen a portion of the truth, a corner of the painting, and the whole truth is:

You and all of us were made for shalom, communion, peace with God and others. The God who made us is a reconciling God, in the sense that from before creation He was about bringing persons together. Integral in creation and its experience of this shalom is freedom, and in that freedom for shalom we consistently break it. But the reconciling God has done something, does something, and in fact is all about doing something to restore that shalom. Amen. Thank goodness. This is what being born again is and continues to be all about. Enter not a religion, but a life pilgrimage, of new creation; restored communion. A "religion" with its negative aspect (the snowglobe does need shaking), but which is defined by a positive hope and love.

Maybe that doesn’t seem all that different. I need to try to articulate better why this is an absolute paradigm shift of seismic proportions. Because that is what this is to me. I think that if I could reorient my life around this it might make all the difference. Furthermore, if the Church reoriented itself around this I think it would not only be turned upside down (and right again, over and over) but would in turn begin to have that same effect on its world.

This would be thrilling---like the first drops of a fresh snowfall on a dirty city.

1 comment:

Tony Tanti said...

Does this change the concept that we are born sinners who need saving? I've heard it said that it what seperates us from humanists, that we believe we are born bad. That's never sat right with me, like I need to look down on a humanist for having a positive outlook.

I always preferred the idea that all humans are loved and made in God's image, that seems like a healthier starting point to me. Not that I don't include the fact that I need God to take care of my sins...