the weight of the Uninspired...  

Posted by Michael Rhodes

I hadn’t been to this particular place in a very long time and I knew what to expect, but it was worse than I thought. Its’ tiredness had become exhaustion and its’ usualness had become a grind. My little ten minute speech earned some smiles, handshakes and a “thanks for that”, but the weight of that room seemed to cloud around me with an “is that all you got” smirk on its’ face. I went away a little different, it stayed the same.

I am not looking for hype. Hype is easy to find, but somehow in some Christian circles (churches, universities, camps…) it seems that creativity, expression and ingenuity have become suspect. While we could undoubtedly compile a long list of theological and ecclesiological conclusions that have fostered this distrust, here is my take on one.

We have more than compartmentalized that which is spiritual by saying it is only these “things” and not “those.” We have taken it hostage and placed it in a secure location guarded by men in suits, with high walls and typically a steeple. I believe this has sincerely been born out of our desire to control it. We want to control it because we can’t trust others with it. We fear that if what we call spiritual were to be open-ended to some degree then anyone could do with it as they pleased at anytime. So it has been stripped down, disarmed and assessed. Some have got it down to 5 acts while others go a little further adding in sub-points, but the distinction between what is “spiritual” and “everything else” is made clear. In this type of environment, creativity, expression and ingenuity are the exact things that could corrupt a sterile, hushed and controlled spirituality. Those things are fine when it comes to the “everything else”, but in regards to “spirituality”, creativity, expression and ingenuity create concern and apprehension. That day in that room, I felt the heaviness of human beings fed a regular and bland dose of so-called spiritual practices.

In the midst of Paul dealing with more “missing of the point” from some early followers, he makes a statement that is packed with freedom and possibility. He tells them that neither side of their argument has any value. He tells them that the only thing that avails, has value, or matters is “faith expressing itself (or working) through love.” That statement is bursting with potential. Those that would rather keep spirituality tied up are afraid that a free spirituality is a dangerous one destined to foolishly slide down a “slippery slope.” Conversely, I truly believe that anyone with honest intentions in following this way of Jesus can with some time and work find their way in it. They will undoubtedly make mistakes, but the power of their mistakes is not like the power of His grace (Romans 5:15-16) and the piling up their mistakes cannot overtake the piling up of His grace. (Romans 5:20) The fear we often articulate of allowing each of us the freedom to “express his or her faith in love” is not one I am buying into.

Jesus calls us into this new beautiful way of living full of graciousness, mercy, redemption, sacrifice, and justice. These things have no boundaries and are not only found in church. As I have said in a previous blog, His goal for us is not to hold worship services according to some preordained pattern. We are called to something much bigger than what is typically included in “going to church.” We are called to live in a new kingdom now finding ways to bring graciousness, mercy, redemption, sacrifice, and justice to this world full of bitterness, revenge, selfishness and injustice.

Yet we will never even begin to move in the direction of this goal if people are not freed to explore it…freed from restraining conclusions that serve better as reference points in the past instead of “periods” marking the end of discussion…freed from our current paradigms that teach us how to be observers rather than engagers…freed from overemphasizing bible classes, worship services and church programs to the neglect of bringing the solutions of the kingdom of God to the problems in the kingdom of men. We are created beings made by a Creator and given the ability and responsibility to create. Yet we are not following our own whims on this exploration. We believe in His Spirit, His essence in us moving. Maybe His creativity through us can dream up that possibility. Maybe His expression through us can communicate that love. Maybe His ingenuity through us can solve that problem.

I often wander what Jesus would say to those limiters of freedom who leave no room for individual faith expressing itself through love outside of their predetermined acceptable practices. Probably the same thing he said to the Pharisees who were concerned by the actions of the sinful woman who through her creativity gave even more meaning to the tradition of washing feet and expressed her faith through love by doing it with her tears and hair.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 26, 2009 at Thursday, March 26, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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