Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are we there yet?

It is the perennial childhood question:
--How long until we get to Grandma's house?
--When will it be Christmas?
--How long until I get to learn to ride a two-wheeler?
--Are we there yet?

Life has goals, and we live for their fulfillment.
But sometimes we miss the enjoyment of the trip because we are waiting for the destination.
We miss all the fun of shopping and baking and eating of December because we are waiting for Christmas morning.
We don't think of enjoying our tricycle because we can't wait to get a 'real' bike.

Since life is a journey, this problem doesn't stop at adolescence, or even adulthood.
Spring grows into summer, but we are already waiting for next year. We haven't even picked the tomatoes from our garden before we are planning next year's garden.
A major life transition moves us on from a particular job or location, but we are anxious to again have the security of that new job or new house. Instead of celebrating and enjoying the moment of freedom, taking the time to reflect and gain a new perspective on life, we rush to get back into the responsibilities that we just left.

I see this in some of the blogs I have been reading lately.
People are being drawn out of the traditional/institutional church. They are finding exciting new expressions for their heart of justice, relationship, community. Their lives are no longer filled with sermon or music preparation. No endless business meetings and decision-making. Now they are building relationships in their community, plugging into neighborhoods, serving their fellowman. Being the kingdom in perhaps a much greater way than they ever did while being involved in the organized church.

But some of them are bemoaning their (apparent) fruitlessness and lack of direction, hoping their new 'ministry' will start soon. Subconsciously they think there is supposed to be an arrival at a new destination that will look like the old one.....when God has intentionally booted them out of a nest that looks like that.

I know it's not easy to change the glasses we look at life with.
It's not easy to change the definition of goals, success, arrival.

But how long do you need to be on the plane moving from Vancouver before you realize that your goal isn't to land in Toronto and start over again
.... but to be the pilot.

Are we there yet?
Maybe we already are, and just need to settle in.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


According to Brian McLaren's latest book (see my review here and here), dualism is a product of our Greco-Roman history. I wasn't around then, so I guess I'll take his word on it.
Basically, dualism is the philosophy that things can be divided into two groups—not more, not less.
It reminds me of the quote: "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't" – Robert Benchley

...and most of us do.
--good and evil
--us and them
--the haves and the have nots
--the majority (culture, language, etc.) and everyone else.

(I've touched on this kind of thinking before.)

I guess we come by a dualistic/binary view of life honestly enough. The human body has two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears.
--left and right
--right and wrong
--my way or the highway.

But it really tends to segregate us.
We like to pigeon-hole, to categorize, to stereotype, and to separate.
The people who are like me—and those who aren't.
The unspoken idea is that, 'Me and my kind are OK. We're normal. We're right.' And anything else doesn't really matter because they aren't normal or right.

I'd like to propose two alternative ways of seeing people.
--as only one group. We are all human. Equally loved by God. Equally underserving. Equally wonderful.
--as an infinite number of groups. You are unique. So am I. The more characteristics you notice about yourself, the fewer people you find that are just like you. And don't just consider the externals like size, hair color, or handedness, but things like passions, abilities, character and personality.

If we stop looking at people in the dualistic like-us-or-different, and begin to celebrate both our oneness and our uniqueness, we will better see people as God does.
Paul had this figured out. Galatians 3:28 says: “In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal.”
Jesus tore down the wall that separated us into various groups.

It's not easy to lose this dualism. It's tied to our pride of place, nationality, status or whatever else.
But we have Christ's example—He set aside the things that made him different and became one of us. We will need to do the same.
Perhaps we need to radically change the song 'Give Thanks' so it says: 'Let the rich say I am poor, let the strong say I am weak.' Maybe then we won't tend to look down on people that are different than us.

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