Friday, September 21, 2007

Beauty and the Gospel

This man is Pip Wilson. He’s a hombre highly regard in YMCA circles and has been doing training to people on the edge for ages. He is of the belief that he is beautiful and so are you. He’ll go as far as to say so on a stage. Which is cool.

To enter into theological debate or not to enter theological debate that is the question. At the time I chose not to enter cos I knock about with a group of people who are kinda anti-doctrine, or who have been hurt by the heavy handed doctrine police who legislate the length of skirts to deem them as holy or not. I can appreciate that in the ‘just love them into the kingdom’ perspective there’s not too much time for thinking through why we do what we do cos we’re too busy doing. Fair enough. By that I mean it’s all cool with that approach if that floats your boat. Though I reckon there’s a small leak in said boat that eventually will sink it. That’s just a personal opinion though.

Here LIVE ON THIS BLOG I can do the theological debate! I am aware from a political philosophy perspective that classically there have been two roots for political ideology. One is that man is basically scum of the earth and what are required are laws and regulations to keep him from running wild. A bit of a generalisation but I never promised a sophisticated debate – do the course for that … oh but really read the books when you’re doing it not like others who rely on generalisations. The second classical position which underpins the liberal movement is that people are actually basically good people who require minimal regulation to protect their freedoms and rights to express their goodness. Yeah, shoot me down on the generalisations if you want, but when it comes down to it that’s what they’re all about.

Obviously there are problems with both positions. With the pessimistic approach if we’re so bad and need regulation how can we trust those who are regulating us if they themselves are subject to the same depravity? On the optimistic approach how do we reconcile this beauty image with the varying levels of inhumanity committed by humanity from debilitating behaviours like gossip, hypocrisy and malice to alleged larger atrocities like rape, exploitation and murder?

Guess what? I know this is going to surprise you but I actually believe the Bible has something to say about this! (Yeah, shocker n it?) From what I read the biblical account of humanity is one that is created to reflect God and so is capable of glorious pieces of beauty. The nub of the issue is however that disobedience to the requirements of God means that man is fatally flawed. There’s a bit that says that all has sinned and fallen short of the glory then there are various parts of the bible that points out that man is actually deserving of the anger of God because of this failure to meet His requirements.

So however many ‘good deeds’ we do it still doesn’t match up to the purity, holiness and perfection of the Creator. So by our standards some of us might be doing real well – what great works and teachings Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Buddha, Nelson Mandela, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King et. al. did – yet in the sight of the Creator it’s a whole heap more than deeds and on His perfect scales we’re all found wanting. Not only that but there is nothing we can do to resolve the situation – pop psychology, consumer driven techniques, meditation, yoga, etc. etc. Indeed the whole deal is that we go through life endeavouring to medicate for the problem and fall back on the chestnut phrases ‘well, nobody’s perfect’.

Yet there is someone who has done something about. Seeing as though the Creator has a vested interest in the pinnacle of creation He Himself made a way for reconciliation for the breach to be fixed and for that which we were created for to be actualised to the maximum. The tricky bit though is that we’re not preset to think that way and live in a society that promotes everything other than that setting. I mean after all where’s the attraction in giving up self-focus for God-focus? Giving up everything to find ourselves in the one who created us for His glory – that just doesn’t fit anyone’s agenda when left to themselves.

Ho hum, He’s done His bit and given us a way to experience lifelong and indeed eternal beauty for what it really is rather than pale shadows. Sometimes in my view the blanket statement of being beautiful doesn’t really strike to the source of that beauty. Nor does it reflect how marred the beauty is not due to a readjustment in our thinking through positive exercises and knocking about with positive people but the acknowledgement and total surrender to the true Source of Beauty, Holiness and Truth.

To me that’s why Jesus is so central to living and all this positive jazz is not out in the ether that we recognise in ourselves as something pleasant to us, but embodied in perfection in the character of Christ. Now you don’t have to buy it. You don’t have to believe it. No one’s forcing you and indeed you’re in good company because even the blokes who were following Him for the best of His ministry were a bit baffled by it and only began to get it when He left. Yet in checking what’s been said about Him and what He says about Himself there’s not the option of thinking that this guy is just a regular good dude with nice teaching or good works like the hombres mentioned above. There’s more to it that that and in my humble faith this is something worth selling everything to invest everything into it because He alone is worth it.

For His Name’s Sake
da man cd

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