Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Leaving the Highway

'Neither the language of medicine nor law is an adequate substitute for the language of sin....
Contrary to the legal view, the essence of sin is not primarily the violation of laws, but a wrecked relationship with God, one another and the whole created order'. B B Taylor.

Ever stop and wonder about what defines you as, well, you?
There's a verse in a Mary Chapin-Carpenter song, Almost Home, that I've often affirmed:
"Saw my life this morning, lying in the bottom of a drawer,
All this stuff I'm saving, God knows what this junk is for"

'Whatever I've believed in' , the verse continues, 'this is all I have to show,
what the hell were all the reasons, for holding on with such dear life?'
However we define 'us' - by work, by passions, by health, by what we own, we know, as Dorthy Sayers noted, there is a 'deep interior dislocation at the very centre of human personality' from all such definition, for our very nature speaks loud of our inherent imperfection but equally of our need to find a 'unity of substance both within and beyond ourselves...with that eternal perfection that would define us less hopeless and less irrational in our existence'.
It simply does not matter how charitable, how idealistic we become, we know that even our best and our highest will leave us unfulfilled if the 'gravitational pull' of self pulls us back to an orbit marked with the dislocation and futility we know so well.

The world in general offers no hope to this crisis. Ancient religion and modern science are uncommonly one in their description of a universe birthed in violence and chaos - only in Genesis do we see a different understanding; a God who literally 'earthen's' Himself to fashion and then animate the naked flesh of creatures adorned to bear His image amidst the Universe. In a realm defined by a maturity and wholesomeness we can barely imagine, we were free to delight in all the creational pleasures of an order untainted by our now dislocated attempts to own or hoard it - an earth in which all could be used well.

It is only when we begin to see the no doubt pale reflection of what we were, of what we have lost, that we can begin to understand why this present life, however high our status, will ultimately be unfulfilling. There is a necessity within us, notes C S Lewis, to 'burn' a particular 'fuel' - the life from God, and nothing else can replace that gift.

The 'giant thing' we are actually striving for is significance, not just in a moment or a for a few years, but in the longing that He has placed so deep it can never be denied - in the eternity that is coming. All our gifts, from the beauty of our physical form to our ability to fashion through science or music or architecture, point to a transcendence, a grace that over-arches and over rules the patterns of pain and misery which mar our present fleeting days here. The true focal point of the ages is the One, returned from death, who stands and declares that 'all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me'. To truly save our lives, to make them more than a fleeting moment, we have to loose them in the mercy and significance of the one who makes all things new.

Jesus spoke of the prodigal son, coming to his senses, realizing the folly of seeking to live in poverty so far away from his father's care and love. Repentance is just that.

Why not sit down and take stock of what you are, and consider what we are intended to be.
To be truly human, is to live life fully. That is the intention of the Lord who made us, and who has become a servant to redeem us.

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