This was the news I was treated to several days ago:
A woman has married herself. It was a solo wedding. There she is, standing in front of the congregation, all by her lonesome:
Never mind the larger conflict over whether marriage should be limited
to a union between a man and a woman.
I think when a person marries himself or herself, the real problem
emerges. The real problem has to do with words. When words no longer mean things, that is, when a word can mean just about any thing, the world as we know it largely ceases to exist.
Once words were divine.
Then words were mass produced in printing presses.
Then words evaporated into thin air, or into cyberspace, with a click
of a mouse.
Then people began marrying themselves.
John 1.1 In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.
This was the news I was treated to several days ago:
When we see something, we become that thing. Seeing an object means achieving a similarity between that object and our inner faculty that allows us to see it. The two become one.
This was how folks in ancient times understood seeing.
And so Paul refers to Christians in this way: “you were once darkness, but now you are light in Christ.”
He does not say we can elect to turn on (or off) this light. He just says we ARE light in Christ.
The logic here is that, if we’ve been enlightened by Christ – if we see the point of His gospel – then we become that light. It is not a mental thing we store in our brains. It is a whole-person thing that characterizes the essential nature of who we are.
Jesus worked under the same rationale. He said this: “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
When I was a kid I always struggled with this saying. How can the eye be evil (number one); how can light be in us (number two); and how can that light be darkness (number three)?
Well, number one: The eye is the point of entry of what we see, and what we see, we become. Therefore if we see (entertain) evil things, we become those things morally.
Number two: What we see by the sight of light is the quality of light that is in us.
Number three: If what has entered us (by the light of sight) is dark, our whole being is (it equals) moral darkness. So, indeed, how great is that darkness!
We are too taken by today’s scientific view of light as simply particles and waves with no moral value to them. Light is just stuff that comes from the sun. Or: Light is just something we can turn on or off artificially, independent of any moral essence within us.
But if the Bible is true, we are further away from understanding the true nature of light than ever before.
Ephesians 5.8 (ESV) For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
Matthew 6.23 (KJV) But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Aristotle’s theory of perception involves big words like hylomorphism and a distinction between potential and actual form in relation to matter. But here is a statement from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that can help; it can be found in an article entitled “Aristotle’s Psychology” and it is in section 6: “Aristotle is happy to speak of an affected thing as receiving the form of the agent which affects it and of the change consisting in the affected thing's “becoming like” the agent (De Anima ii 5, 418a3–6; ii 12, 424a17–21). So there is in both cases a hylomorphic model of alteration involving enforming, that is, a model according to which change is explained by the acquisition of a form by something capable of receiving it.” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-psychology/#6
We evangelicals pull no punches when insisting on the exclusivity of Jesus as the Way, the Truth, the Life.
The very exclusivity of this claim implies holiness, because holiness means separation from that which is common.
But it is curious that this profound truth carries with it few consequences in material terms. In fact it is no exaggeration to say that, of all of the major religions, the Protestant evangelical edition of the Christian faith might be the only one that provides no well-considered guidelines whatsoever in the way the Christian confession is lived out, is expressed, in material expressions of an art-aesthetic nature, of an architectural nature.
And yet this is the confession that stresses incarnation, God-with-us, as man, in embodied form.
If Jesus is the Way, how should the physical venues in which we live our embodied lives reflect this directionality?
If Jesus is the Truth, what practices of décor, of comportment, of the design of our physical environments, are informed by this Truth?
If Jesus is the Life, how should we then live beyond merely mental conceptions of this truth?
If Jesus is indeed the Life, shouldn’t that life spill over, fill up, even overflow, in an incarnational celebration of all that we are physically and materially?
Matthew 5.16 Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Time is here, and then it is gone. Minds better than mine have mused about this conundrum -- Augustine, for one, in Chapter XI of his Confessions.
As I get old, this matter has been profoundly weighing on me. I’ve come to a conclusion of sorts: it cannot be as simple as this. It cannot be that what I experienced a year ago, or a minute ago, is GONE.
They are not gone. My experiences are not gone. They are somewhere; just not here. But then … even as I write this, even here is not here.
… In my father’s house are many dwellings; I go to prepare a place for you …
Here is what I am thinking: it is the totality of what the inner man has been made by all of his or her experiences that somehow goes into eternity.
But eternity is also here and now. This is another mistake we make. We think we live the moments of life now. And then when we die … eternity. But this is logically incorrect. Eternity can’t be eternity if it starts to be eternity only tomorrow. Eternity is eternity by virtue of the fact that it is NOW.
So how can time be gone; how can our experiences all be gone; if eternity is now?
And so we need to live in the fear of God. And all that I do today – ah, I am writing again on my recliner – should be done, should be experienced, with the expectation that I will someday experience it again more fully.
Think of it: it says that God will wipe away all of our tears someday in the New Jersusalem. But how can it be ALL of our tears if he is only to wipe them away someday?
John 14.2 In my Father's house are many rooms ( μονή dwellings). If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Revelation 21.4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."