Four Dimensional Faith

It’s always been the case that we live in a complex world. Yet so often we are satisfied with reducing the world’s complex realities to simplistic dimensions. We simplify people so we can categorize them, we simplify ideas and concepts so we can “master” them, and we simplify our faith so we can comfortably attain and meet its requirements. It is our faith that should have room to stretch us and shape us into something new and better… rather we have molded our faith into one dimension limiting its formational capacity.

Regardless of what end of the spectrum of spirituality we find ourselves on, most of us approach faith and spirituality from a 1 dimensional perspective. On either end these 1 dimensional perspectives can be compared with the terms vertical and horizontal. Some people only operate from a vertical dimension. They believe that their spirituality is limited to loving God, but this world is the enemy. They keep their eyes focused upward and to the future, because this world is considered to be no good. On the contrary some people do not have a vertical approach but rather understand faith from a horizontal dimension. They believe that our purpose is to do good and care for creation and society, but they have lost spiritual vitality. God has been removed from the equation. Spirituality is more connected to community and culture than with God.

The bible presents something a lot more complex and I would argue beautiful than the reduced and simplified approach to spirituality. Take Luke 4 for an example.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Here we see from Jesus’ words that we ought not approach faith from a limited dualistic perspective, rather Jesus himself had completely integrated and intertwined spirituality with God and societal engagement as essentials for his faith. He did not believe to be spiritual would require him to ignore the realities of the world and separate himself so he could commit all his time to worshiping God. Nor did he have to reject spirituality as a reality of life so that he could begin having an impact on those who were oppressed around him. No, in fact based on that passage it was the very fact that Jesus had the Spirit, that he did the things he did. Jesus lived out a 4 dimensional faith in a 4 dimensional world. Let us move away from simplicity, as we allow ourselves to engage God and engage our world meaningfully every day. When we pick and choose, prioritizing one aspect of faith over the other, we all lose.

Drive-thru Readings

We love quick interpretations and applications for our life when we read the Bible. The slow process of reading and surveying the whole book, seeking to learn about the ancient context, putting the text we are reading in light of the whole biblical narrative, and reading everything in light of and through the context of Jesus’ life… well all that just seems to take too long. We want a microwaved instant reading. We want to get our truth and relevance for our problem quick and fast. We don’t want to commit to a lifestyle of study and meditation. We want to pull up make our order, and get our product and drive off. How might our instant and immediate driven culture affect how we read the Bible? Maybe John Legend is right, “maybe we should take it slow”? Freestyle with me…

Martin & Malcolm

This picture was taken during the one and only time these two great men met. No one knows what exactly was said between them and so we are left wondering what was shared in that moment where their destinies briefly crossed. Was it a friendly exchange or was it one of tension and disagreement? We know that they were drastically at odds during most of their lives, however both went through monumental shifts in idealogy in the final stages of their lives.  Malcolm X clearly began moving away from his radical ideology which endorsed hatred of white people, to embracing all people who were willing to struggle for equality. On the other hand, Martin Luther King became more aggressive, realizing that the injustices and racism in the North were more resistant to justice and equality than he originally thought.  Many have even suggested that the ideological trajectory of the two men would have eventually met in the middle had their lives not been ended so abruptly (both where murdered at the age of 39).

I personally appreciate both men.  I love that Malcolm X was able to affirm his humanity and manhood in the face white supremacy and hatred. He did so with courage and strength, which is why he has and will continue to be an important icon in the black community.  I love what Martin Luther King did and stood for.  When I imagine someone taking serious the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ I think of Martin Luther King Jr., because of his commitment to peace, justice, nonviolence, and love for all humanity even to the point of death. Both the Church and all of American society are indebted to him for his example and unwanted progress he accomplished.

Freestyle with me, what are Martin and Malcolm’s significance to you…

Urban Retreat Center…

Why is it that when we go on retreats it is always to rural areas? We always go out into the country to meet and hear from God, but why don’t we ever retreat in urban contexts? Can’t we also take time to intentionally dwell in the city to hear God? Does God only speak to us when we go to less populated and less developed spaces? Or is it just a Christian bias that we all have bought into…

Maybe instead of retreating from the city we could actually retreat to the city. There might actually be some advantages to retreating in the urban context! What can God teach us in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of life? How might we see Jesus anew surrounded by poor and systemically oppressed people? How might God shape and transform His people in the urban setting? What could an individual or communities time look like as they seek God submerged in the hood? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this. Freestyle with me…

Intruder Alert

Just thought this was a intriguing comic on the whole Arizona Immigration law, given that land once belonged to Mexico.  Honestly, I think it is a complex issue and I refuse to fall into either the liberal or conservative camp on this one.  I liked what Robert Gelinas asked on his blog… not whether or not we agree with the law, but rather what Christian principles were people applying to arrive at an faithfully christian response.  Obviously, many people found scripture to justify both sides of the argument. I just wonder if God is pleased with either answer.  Ultimately, whatever our response is to the law, we must be convinced that it is a demonstration of our love to God and our love for others (specifically, undocumented immigrants).