Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Point

In an Emergent Village panel discussion podcast, at minute 46, Tony Jones turns to Diana Butler Bass and suggests: "The point of your life is to influence the church." Diana immediately rebuts: "The point of my life is to do what God tells me to do."

Perhaps it was just the way Diana said it, but I don't think I have ever heard a clearer statement about God's will.

Some meditations on Diana's statement:

The point of my life is to do what God tells me to do.

Our lives have meaning. We are not just a collection of random walks along a meaningless pathway. Each of us has a vector and an impact on the world

The point of my life is to do what God tells me to do.

We exist as the otherindependent of God. We experience free will, and are not slaves to the past. We are not driven choiceless by the forces around us. Like Christ, we have the authority to lay down our lives.

The point of my life is to do what God tells me to do.

This foreshadowing of the telling carries no direction in itself. It's the commitment to obey the command, the decision to take the step to begin the journeywithout knowing the destination. 

The point of my life is to do what God tells me to do.

God doesn't ask, except for a few rhetorical questions (e.g., "Who told you that you were naked?"). Normally He tells. This telling can take many formsfrom a blinding light on the road to Damascus, to tiny pebbles glancing off our consciousness. But whatever the mode it serves to illuminate a way.

But what if God provides no telling for a decision at hand? There is no drawing of a line between God's business and ours. Normally we should just follow our hearts, but listen. As Heidi a.k.a. Virushead says: "God doesn't care what we dounless He cares."

Usually justice, kindness, and humility require no tellingthey call out on their own. 

The point of my life is to do what God tells me to do.

God's direction is not about theories or corner cases. It's about existence, the moves we make in our livesthe choices, the doing. His direction is more about the event than the flow, the exception not the rule. We can make no presumption of preferencesometimes we are to follow our hearts, at times He redirects.  

Some dis-miss the point because of unbelief.  Others complain that they never hear the telling. The telling might be in Diana's and my imagination, but I am sure of one thingthat regardless of whether we are right or not about this, belief comes firstotherwise there is no point.


darin said...

You have just summed up what I have been reading, thinking and writing (in sermons etc)for the better part of a year... but so beautifully and succinctly that I am embarrased to call myself a preacher.
With your permission I would like to share this post with the class of prospective members at my church. I think it absolutely one of the most profound statements of faith I have ever read... and I have read a LOT!!!
thank you so much for this post
it is an incredible blessing!

VirusHead said...

Simply beautiful, Vance. The Voronoi fractals are resonant with the content, too.

"whatever the mode it serves to illuminate a way"...

What the the path of journey actually is only grasped in retrospect, but each step along that path co-creates the path - and the walker.

"Rabbi Zusya said that on the Day of Judgment, God would ask him, not why he had not been Moses, but why he had not been Zusya."
~ Walter Kaufmann

VanceH- said...

Thanks Darin and Heidi. Darin, feel free to share this with anyone you wish. I have been chewing on this, amongst other things,and fighting blogger's block since mid-October, when I saw this post:

Jeff said...

It's nice to have an oppurtunity to read your thoughts again. You've had some posts up for a while that I've missed. I suppose at some point I ought to get into those RSS feed thingees so that I don't allow blogs like yours to fall off my radar...
At any rate...
I totally agree with what you have to say here and I think that Diana Butler Bass stated things a bit more accurately...
But I found myself wondering (and hope you'll offer some insight):
Do you think, in practice, that there will be much disagreement between the idea that we ought to do what God tells us to do and that we ought to influence the church?
My initial thought is that there is probably a small percentage of instructions we will recieve from God that will not influence the church, but, for the most part, every time we do what God tells us to do, we probably are influencing the church.

VanceH- said...

Hi Jeff,
Your question touches a topic that I have been thinking about a lot--without much resolution. Obviously the Church and the community are important, and I definitely see the tension between our walk with God as individuals and how we influence, and are influenced by our fellowship.

A couple of thoughts--not all are called to be teachers / leaders. It seems biblical that those called into those roles should have a bigger voice in setting the direction & dealing with the day-to-day problems and decisions. The other thought is that with God spiritual homogenization seems to be the exception rather than the rule. There are a lot of Christian groups out there, that are probably genuinely seeking and open to God's will, and yet they have significantly different philosophies, strategies, and implementations.

On approach is to expect there to be one right way to have a church /community / specific hermeneutic and consequently believe that most people are wrong. I'm more inclined to think that God uses an customized approach that challenges / supports us in focused way.