ƒ Christianity for Thinking People: March 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Patterns of Discipleship

"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give." (Matt. 10.8)

Given Jesus's expectations of disciples most of our visions seem pretty insignificant in comparison. Even on a really great spiritual day raising the dead wouldn't make my list of things to do! The behaviors that Jesus commands of his disciples in this verse are more than most of us could imagine even in our wildest spiritual fantasies. We have too many fear-based psychological defense mechanisms in place to permit that kind of reckless spirituality. But maybe it is exactly this kind of thinking beyond-the-possible that is the meaning of faith itself.

Even science would not be possible without a willingness to think beyond the possible. Especially if we think of the possible as that which is, as the status quo way that we conceive of the world. As it turns out the way that we conceive the world can change dramatically, and those that catch a glimpse of the changing paradigm in advance find themselves outside of the realm of the possible. Prior to the twentieth-century the conception of flight itself was merely a fantasy, something that went well beyond what was thought as possible by the vast majority of thinking people.

When viewed through a naturalistic lens the kingdom of God is an utter impossibility. The hard logic of cause and effect as well as the second law of thermodynamics teaches us that wishing for the raising of the dead is foolish. And yet wild hopes for divine healing and life beyond the grave persist. Why? Are we just foolish dreamers that can't handle the harsh truth of the real world? Are such hopes simply compensations for the hard reality of life in a cold, Newtonian universe? Or do such hopes actually connect us with a kingdom of God that challenges all conceptions of what is possible? A kingdom that teaches us to imagine that which is not possible as the first step toward the transformation of what is to the amazing prospect of what could be?

Is it possible that a church that began with a bunch of dreamers and visionaries has become so stunted by the unimaginative status quo that we have lost touch with that kingdom that breaks all boundaries and explodes our conceptions of what is possible?