a landscape larger with promise

As I mentioned yesterday, Lauren and I have been in Aberdeen for seven months, and as we dive deeper into the back half of our experience here, we are beginning to think about what life will look like upon our return to Canada. There will be decisions of not only where we will live and what we will do, but, perhaps more importantly, how we will live.

We are in the midst of witnessing, on one hand, many people our age who are having children and purchasing houses, wonderful family building milestones that we ourselves hope to experience. At the same time, we see older generations in the process of downsizing and purging, coming to the realization that many of the things that we consume and collect over the course of life really don’t have any lasting value. There is a clear ark of moving up and up through your 20s, 30s and 40s, and once you arrive at your 50s and 60s, a downward shift of downsizing and simplification begins to take place where the things in life that really are important come into a clearer perspective. I wonder, then, if that upward spike really needs to happen at all.

So, how then do we live? As I mentioned in an earlier post, there seems to be a gravitation towards certain standards that are expected in terms of what makes a good Christian these days. In recent years, there has been a huge upswing in talk regarding social justice, intentional community, church planting, fair trade buying and so on. These things are challenging the popular modes of consumption, success and power that dominate our culture and that have indeed come to dominate the church. They are good and right. At the same time, I cringe a little bit when it is said that “this is what you have to do to be a good Christian.” The truth is that everyone’s story is different, and various responses to the call to follow Jesus take on different forms. While I’m sure 9 out of 10 of us can agree on some general guidelines of what is expected of us, we are all unique and different and it’s not about mirroring what this or that person is doing, but rather coming to an understanding of what God is asking of us in the here and now, the daily realities of life.

As I’ve been thinking about this, I have been reading Eugene Peterson’s The Jesus Way, and this one quote pretty much sums up what I am trying to get at, so I’ll wrap this post up with this:

The life of faith does not consist in imposing our will (or God’s will) either on other persons or on the material world around us. Instead of making the world around us or the people around us or our own selves into the image of what we think is good, we enter the life ling process of no longer arranging the world and the people on our terms. We embrace what is given to us – people, spouse, children, forests, weather, city – just as they are given to us, and sit and stare, look and listen until we begin to see and hear the God-dimension in each gift, and engage with what God has given, with what he is doing. Every time we set out, leaving our self-defined or culture-defined state, leaving behind our partial and immature projects, a wider vista opens up before us, a landscape larger with promise.

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    • JT
    • April 8th, 2009

    Dude, that was a super insightful post. Good on’ya!

    • Jess
    • April 8th, 2009

    Coming from similar circumstances–I can relate to this! These are questions and thoughts Jon and I have been discussing recently, too. One thing that has struck us lately is grace: The idea that we’ve been accepted as we are–we are not required to “do” anything for Christ’s love. Not that we need not try to be ‘good Christians,’ but grace helps us “embrace what is given to us.” There are still ways of living that I aim for as a follower of Jesus, but I need to remember the part about grace more…and that it’s available to all of us. Thanks for this post!

  1. Thanks, JT.

    Jess, I could not agree more. Well said. Lauren and I hope that you and Jon are doing well in Hamilton.

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