Amazing, troubling, beautiful, divergent, vibrant, exciting, fragile, global, isolated, discordant, mesmerizing..... our current world...
It is the speed of the process that captures my attention.
Before cell phones and internet..... things were slower
Before cars and telephones...things were slower still
Before electricity and railroads.... things were even slower
All human elements have always been in place.
When I read Shakespeare- the humans are the same: a life of laughter, shame, mourning, desire, doubt, self expression, accomplishment, conflict, gratitude, guilt, and death. The same is true all the way back to Plato and Homer, AND the Bible.
It is the pace that is different. Humans are human, sin is sin, life is life, beauty is beauty, pain is pain, war is war, prosperity is prosperity and so on.
The amenities are better- knowledge build upon knowledge- technology upon technology, medical advancement upon medical advancement... that has exponentially added to the speed and comforts. I am thankful for that. George Washington did not have Advil or a modern dentist!
No matter the change, no matter the pace- the deep problems remain.
Questions of life
The Reality of death
The pain of suffering
The thirsts of the heart: peace, significance, relationship, comfort, love, and security... still not fully quenched.
But the biggest issue is unbelief.
Now, as soon as I say 'unbelief', it causes an immediate assumption that I am referring to God.
But that is not the starting place of prescription.
No, that is not the problem at all.
The journey away from promise and hope does not begin with a loss of faith in God.
The wandering begins with a loss of a healthy skepticism of self.
Here is the first verse we do not believe:
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Corinthians 13:13
This verse if often overlooked and often disbelieved.....
The very fact that it is right at the end of the great 'chapter of love' in Paul's letter is quite striking to me.
The speed of information and the glossy nature of advancing technology hides a startling fact- we do not and can not know all of the information... nor do we have a right to do so.
This bothers us... immensely... enough for some to abandon the only hope of rescue on a sinking ship in the storm of disillusionment, depression, and doubt.
It is hard to convince a man with a mental illness that he is not seeing the real picture.
But the Bible tells us as honestly as it can- that our views are distorted, our wires are crossed, and our nature is prone to error.
We cannot know God as He is... He is beyond us... He is incomprehensible. It is like trying to get a newborn baby the grasp the theories of relativity.
When we reject this notion, a seed of tragedy begins to sprout.
"'Knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up."
If we exalt our knowledge... our opinion... without any filter of self-suspicion we obtain a license without a regulator of love and humility.
This knowledge is dangerous... it becomes self centered, self confirming, and self trusting.
Before long we are not being considerate of the conditions of others... we cannot see life from their circumstances.
The reason pride is so deadly is that it ignores truth... it ignores God, refuses Him, and rejecting Him when His views conflict with ours.
"if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, . . . but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
This effects all of us... the religious, the agnostic, the educated, the simple.....
If your only source of confirmation is you or the small circle of self confirming 'sources' that flood your on-line inbox.... be careful... be very careful... deep inside you know you can't really trust the outsiders.... but I am challenging you to consider ONE MORE STEP... what you really can't trust is YOU.
And the first route out is a willingness to humble yourself and open up to the Creator.
As I close on this, I want to one last time, refer to Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.
.. I like her a lot.
The reaction to her story reminds me of how everyone would respond to the real Jesus if we met Him- no one would be comfortable around Him, but His love draws you in regardless.
Do you know her story? A former professor of English and women's studies at Syracuse. Went to a reformed church for a time while standing firm in a culture of feminism and lesbianism. For many Sundays she would leave the bed of her lesbian lover and carefully consider the words of Scripture. The wrestling match in her soul raged.
But through it all, she began to see the real problem. The real problem wasn't worldview, or same sex attraction, or intellectual problems with the existence of what seemed to be a hypocritical God.
The real problem was her pride.
As she writes in her mesmerizing book: Openness Unhindered
In the LGBT community, the opposite of pride is self-hatred. But in the Bible, the opposite of pride is faith. Was pride keeping me from faith, or was pride keeping me away from self-hatred?
And what she said a few sentences later is the point of this blog post....
"This was the first of my many betrayals against the LGBT community: whose dictionary did I trust?"
She had a talk with herself in the mirror one morning...
"Who am I? Am I an atheist? Am I a lesbian? Do I have to have a category?
The strongest sense of self I had at the time was my lesbian identity, but even that was pieced together by a jumble of things.
If Jesus could split the world asunder, divide the soul and the spirit, judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, could he make my true identity prevail?"
"Who am I? .
.. (but then she asked the question of humble submission) "Who will God have me to be?"
If you are reading this... did you get hung up on a word?... did your red flag of angry opinion rise?
Do you trip over words like God, Bible, Lesbian, LGBT in angst or anger?
Settle down for an instant and listen....
Whose dictionary are you going to trust?
And my challenge is to do something you haven't done in a long time.... read the Bible, in a quiet and submissive spirit.
Read it in a thoughtful long section.
Read the Book of Colossians or Philippians... read a long section of the Book of John. Don't read it in an effort to judge it... read it in a longing for love and direction. The voice of your Father isn't angry.. it is a tone of understanding and love. He LONGS for you.
Let God have a chance to re-wire your thinking.
And what you may realize is that you are letting the speed of information cloud your eternal perspective.
Our biggest unbelief is our inability to understand that left alone, we will soon become the god of our own life. And we are incapable of steering that ship.
That happens to believers as well.... you can miss the story of Rosaria on both sides. You can be angry at God on the left... or you can throw stones at the sinner from the right.
Stop demanding to know it all immediately... quietly walk with the Master on a journey and let His light lead the way.
You cannot read the roadsigns with any GPS of this world.