Beautiful people

“The life of man becomes an unbroken chain of movements dictated by his anxious desire for assurances” – Karl Barth

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things” – Morrie Schwartz

I spent the last half a week in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia visiting a House of Prayer and a Church.

I am still trying to figure out the people I saw and met there. Typical me.

When I met these people, I could only describe what I saw/felt as a purity and a simplicity that was incredibly beautiful. I want it. I want what they have!

I feel as if most westerners walk around with great weights on our shoulders. You can see it on people’s faces and in the way they stand. There are a great many concerns weighing the modern man down. Children in the west generally don’t have these concerns and so they seem to have the same sort of purity.

“The Western world is healthy, powerful, and educated. We are blessed with enormous conveniences and luxuries, the abundance of every conceivable good. But we have lost the freedom to enjoy any of it. We are so anxious and frantic, so busy trying to find ourselves and our purpose, we look over and beyond our true glory and never even see it, let alone enjoy it.” – Baxter Kruger

There were varying degrees of what I could perhaps call a weightlessness about them. The women and the children in this context were more ‘weightless’ but I seemed to sense some ‘weight’ on the young men.

But when you see them worship God. Oh wow, this purity stands out. There is a singleness of devotion, and uninhibited expression. There is a freedom, and a degree of focus that puts our busy and distracted and heavy western minds to shame.

I wonder if it is a sense of responsibility that causes this weight. And I’m wondering if the more you own, the larger the size of your bank account, the more you have to be responsible for and care about.

But I’m also wondering if the ‘kingdom person’ (a person living in the fullness of the realities of the word of God) could live with this weightlessness and purity in a seeming paradox of mindsets. That is, he could have the “weight of the world on his shoulders” so to speak because of his responsibilities (pastoring/ministry and company/business activities or ventures), and yet have a purity and a freedom that comes from knowing the responsibility for all things lies in the hands of one infinitely more wise and powerful and ‘for him’, than he could ever be.

Perhaps here-in lies the meaning and beauty and power of Jesus’ statement that we must receive the kingdom like little children.

It’s simple.

Simplicity. I have been gripped recently by the significance of simplicity. Not only the necessity of, but the beauty and freedom of, simplicity.

The problem with “dichotomy”

The rational and logical worldview that was brought on by the enlightenment and modernism still pervades our thinking today: in concept of the ‘dichotomy’ of things. There is a separation of things in two mutually exclusive fields, where A cannot be A if it is non-A. The mind is separated from the body – the mind thinks and the heart or the gut feels. And so it would seem logical that the world works in such a fashion.

The problem with this kind of thinking (that began with Plato and is Greek in it’s origins) is that it is essentially reductionistic. It reduces things/people/life to being the sum of all the parts. In this reduction, where the spheres are separate and not intersecting and interacting, you lose meaning and significance. See, Jeremy Lung is far more than his brain, and his personality, and his hairy legs put together. The suburb of Epping is not merely houses+cars+people+etc. There are dynamic and ever changing unlimited relationships and interactions within these spheres that make it the beautiful whole.

I believe this concept of ‘dichotomy’ expresses itself in problematic ways: for e.g. Life is separated into what you NEED to do and what you WANT to do, particularly for us Gen Y’ers. And when we are not doing what we WANT to do then we are unhappy. It also reduces the significance of doing things we NEED or HAVE to do. I’m not discounting the fact that there are real needs and wants in a person’s life, but if we could perhaps think of both as necessary in the scheme of the whole, we would be a generation alot more content, and certainly much more productive.

Indeed ‘dichotomy’ is a very real concept in the church, where our lives can be separated into what is “holy” and “secular”. That going to church and praying and reading the Bible is “holy” and going to work and eating, sleep, weeing, shaving is “secular”. In this assessment of things, the “secular” activities lose real meaning.

The significance of “unity”

I believe the Hebrew mind and the Hebrew worldview was one that advocated this unity and wholeness. The Hebrew conception of the world was a womb WITHIN God. It’s one of unity and wholeness. We see this in the Trinity, where each unit has it’s distinct sphere and function, but they exist as a whole.

Indeed, in western medicine, we have dichotomized physical and mental and spiritual health. Physical sickness is seen as purely a function of physiological pathology that is completely unrelated to mental and spiritual issues. And yet anyone would be able to tell you that stress causes disease, and the psychological IS linked with the physical. Lesser known are the links say between bitterness and cancer. Indeed in my own healing and journey through ezcema, a physical skin condition, it was the resolution and healing of mental and conditions that brought physical healing.

The solution of ‘the Kingdom’

And all this musing I am doing is simply because I am trying to introduce the idea that life was made to be coherent and meaningful and whole, that life and wholeness is meant to be simple. And in this coherence and wholness, we find significance. And it is found in a life with Jesus.  I deeply believe that life finds its wholeness and fullness to the extent that we do one thing. You see “only one thing” is required in the Kingdom of God. You do that one thing and everything else falls into place. To the extent that we do one thing, your life finds unity. Your passions, your desires, your work, your ambitions, your talents. You do this one thing, and it is not as if your life won’t consist of doing many things, but that everything will fall into place as a whole, as a consistent, beautiful and meaningful whole.

The more we follow Jesus, the more we sit as his feet, we realise life becomes increasingly coherent and SIMPLE. It doesn’t stop being complex in that we still eat, drink, work, play, sleep, love, cry. But perhaps it does become more simple and what a beautiful simplicity it is, what a freeing simplicity it is.

And a generation will arise that pursues one thing, and in that one thing, they shall find fullness and meaning and freedom and significance and life. Life to the full. Just as he promised.