December 2, 2005, 2:37 pm
Filed under: uncategorized

I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with people I respect, who are older than I, and hold some different perspectives of theology, culture, and politics than I, but are willing to engage in discussion with me about where I’m headed with all my talk of progressive faith and Kingdom and mission. I’ve been in conversation with these folks for a long time, and for the most part I’ve made arguments that would put me in a place of being more “liberal” than they are. And yet, the other day, in a larger group context, one of them described me as being someone who says things that concern people and raise questions about my theological soundness, but in reality I am actually quite conservative. The inference was that I’m theologically conservative, but wacky enough to take this stuff about the Kingdom of God seriously, and allow it to shape my life.

Artificial categories like conservative and liberal aren’t very helpful most of the time. Mainly because they are typically used in a way of defining an otherness. We objectify people and positions when we find a way of labeling them (I do mean “we” here – all of us do it). And yet the Kingdom of God is a completely other kind of otherness. It is so inclusive that it is often difficult to sort out its boundaries. It is so exclusive that it becomes frustrating to describe. It defies categorization.

The beauty and mystery of the Kingdom of God says that only a mystic who retreats from the noise of the world is able to taste small pieces of it after deep and quiet meditations. But the mystic who leaves the world to do this, is leaving a vital aspect of the Kingdom because it is often found within the very noise he/she is seeking relief from. Paradox is everywhere in the Kingdom. Salvation so often appears in the darkest places. In a sense, being too far from sin (or at least the knowledge of sin) is being too far from the grace that saves us fromit. Most of the time, it comes down to intentionality – we must make ourselves available to the Spirit of the Kingdom in order to experience the Kingdom. We must submit ourselves entirely to the Lord of the Kingdom in order to enter our brotherhood with him and become joint heirs. We have to decide that the ways of the Kingdom are for the sake of our King, and not a system designed to make us feel better about life.

Finding a way through the paradox without becoming frustrated by it can be as fun as it is frustrating. Sometimes it just makes sense when it makes sense, and doesn’t when it doesn’t. All we can do is shrug our shoulders and keep walking. If I were to give myself over to piety in anything at this point, it would be the piety of intention. Taking every thought captive is another way of saying it.

Sorry for the ramble there. Probably didn’t make much sense. I’m just trying to make sentences out of some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head lately.


1 Comment so far
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Makes sense but more than anything I FEEL like I know exactly what you are saying. “Intentional piety”, I like that. Intention is one of my favorite ideas.

Comment by Bill Bean

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