Sunday, April 17, 2011

Here and Now and There and Then...

I read a quote by Thomas Kelly recently that said, "Men nowadays take time more seriously than eternity."

The quote was from the book, "A Testament of Devotion" and under his chapter regarding the church and social concern. I thought this odd in that Kelly seems to be indicating that the more we become God-focused and thus eternity focused, the more we become concerned about our world.

Growing up Southern Baptist, I found it easier to be heavenly minded when thinking spiritual thoughts and truths. It seemed to me that we were always preaching and being taught that the best was yet to come. And that this life here on earth was at its best an ordeal to tolerated until we could get to our final reward which of course was heaven.

What I have since learned in my maturing faith (and still am in a steep learning curve) is that our inward life with Christ does not reduce our concern for the world but rather spurs us on towards and more truly whole and righteous burden for the world that God created and all that is therein.

The deeper we go into God, the deeper we go into the paradox of what the early church fathers called 'contemptus mundi' - turning away from earthly attachments and ambitions - to 'amor mundi' - a divine but painful concern for the world. It is not that we become more detached from the world the more spiritual we become but rather the opposite. The more we become "in God" through Jesus Christ, the more we begin to see, have concern for and love the world through God's eyes. And this is a terrible and painful yet wonderful (all at the same time) burden.

It's like John Coffey ("Like the drink, but not spelled the same") in the movie, "The Green Mile." We begin to see the world as it really is: beautiful yet dark; wonderful yet painful; filled with joy yet filled with evil. And we yearn and are even tired down to our bones with the anticipation of one day, God setting everything in place like He planned from before the beginning of time. Yet in the in-between time, we find ourselves - called to turn away from the world but still be concerned and join God in His great redemption process of bringing His world back to Himself.

Ours is not an easy journey. But then the way of the cross is never easy, is it?


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