“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” G.K. Chesterton
Once we thought the earth was the centre of the universe, and now we realise we orbit around a relatively minuscule star that sits on some spiral arm 2/3rds of the way out from the centre of our galaxy which is one of billions. Once we hoped to understand the ways in which everything worked, but now we realise things like quantum mechanics and life are infinitely complex and irreducible in nature. And yet the prideful headiness of Modernism still resides in our Christian faith.
Reducing the Irreducible
And so inside the church, I feel there is still a sense in which we try to reduce the irreducible Christian faith into propositional truths that we merely need to know and understand. Christianity has become an exercise of the intellect. We are like a group of mountain-top sunrise watchers who choose to dryly de-construct the way in which it happens (i.e. the earth rotating and orbiting a stationary sun), instead of staring in awe and drinking in it’s beauty and majesty. We try and make God and Christianity fit into our own boxes, and fit our own agendas and realities, instead of allowing them to define reality for us. We sit over the Christian God, dictating to Him where He needs to be instead sitting under Him and allowing Him to continually define, and re-define our realities.
So no wonder Christianity has become dry and irrelevant.
This problem plays itself out in the ways we think about the words ‘grace’, ‘gospel’, ‘humility’ etc. We treat these words as concepts that are boxable to a nice acrostic, or a few elegantly arranged sentences. We simplify them at our own danger, and to our own detriment.
Reversing our perspective
And so if we then begin to think of these concepts as eternal, broad and weighty; as ideas that we could never even begin to get our minds around; as massively pure and beautiful diamonds that we could only ever see one facet of at any point in time, then we might begin to ‘understand’ them rightly. And in doing so, we may recover a Christianity that is relevant, engaging, passionate and earthy. And in doing so, we will perhaps recover a message of Jesus and the Kingdom of God that finds expression and relevance in every decision of our lives, every job we do, every ice-cream we eat, every longing of our hearts, every thought of our minds, every cell in our bodies, every breath we breathe, and every song we sing. It is irreducible. It is uncontainable. It is unstoppable. Least of all by our minds.
Allow me to put another plug in here for humility – the foundation of this ‘redefining’ talked about – is humility.
P.S. The ongoing series on humility is along these lines, and I have one or two upcoming posts on ‘grace’ and perhaps a few posts on ‘the Gospel’. And this is the nature of my task – I am trying to provide another perspective on these beautiful diamonds – each post is an attempt at articulating the magnificence of one facet of each of these diamonds which I have seen and experienced, which has found an earthy application in my own life. I dare not think that I have the be-all-end-all of revelations about them, but perhaps such perspectives will help broaden yours and shed more light on these precious concepts.