Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simplicity or Complexity or Both

So, I was reading Romans this morning and I was really good, but I always forget how all over the place Paul was. I mean, really seriously all over the place. It's just such a crazy complex book. And I think the shame is that we (we? the church? western communities?) have a tendency to really shy away from that type of complexity. Faith is about: love, justice, compassion, community, service... take your pick really. We try to boil everything down into this very digestible form. This idea that people will run screaming from anything too challenging or to complicated. That being said I feel like we really have a tendency to lose out when we do that. Christianity is hard, it's challenging, it's complex, there's all this room for interpretation and application. But instead of trying to press into that, we separate ourselves denominationally and ethnically and generationally and, well, yeah we separate ourselves. And in the process we're losing something. We have this close minded view of the rightness of our particular take. Limited as it might be. There has to be a way out of that. If not we're doomed to become increasingly more simple to the point where faith is a shadow of what it could be.

I'm thinking of the relationship I have with my dad. It's gone through some interesting shifts over the past ten years as he's really opened up about where he's at in life: fears, anxieties, vision, passion. Suddenly my dad isn't just the authority figure or the mentor, but this complex, layered person. And I really feel like our relationship has really benefitted from that. There's something that's so much more real about that. I don't know of a person who's all that easy to peg, so why would we view something as deep and challenging as faith as something that's supposed to be simple.


courtney anne said...

I have this crazy idea that God has compiled us all as individuals with dramatically different talents, loves, passions, educations, experiences, weaknesses and strengths (of course the list could go on). If we were all doing what we loved - all pushing towards our passions instead of settling for what comes easiest - we would have all necessary sectors covered and be getting everything done with more efficiency and joy than...

OK, I'm getting more wordy than I set out to be. Just to say - Amen.

I want a faith that challenges me. I want things in it I can chew on for days or years. However, I also want a simplicity of trust and faith that I can rest back into like a good armchair.

Amen, bro. Thanks for sharing. Keep pushing for more.

AJL said...

I totally agree. I don't tend to think about it as 'complexity' and 'simplicity' - I got to a similar point when I realized that faith had to incorporate uncertainty.

When we too quickly link faith to belief in the rightness or truth of our opinion, we lose all recognition of the distance between the lives we live and God.

Faith needs the maturity and responsibility to acknowledge our limits - that is, to incorporate uncertainty. Like you said, it's knowing the anxieties and fears of a person that makes them more complete...