Wednesday, October 22, 2008

 

A Glimpse of Home: God's Irresistible Stare

For those of you too young to remember the great classic rock group Kansas, let me just say that their music defined my generation during our high school years as much as any 70s to 80s rock band. Their songs were majestic in scope and tenor, they were classic tales sung to the tune of an amazing mixture of heavy rock and roll, church organs, and violins. In some ways (to me at least), they were the U2 of my generation. Here is a song that I love from a 1979 album. Kerry Livgren wrote the song. It is entitled "A Glimpse of Home." Here are the lyrics:


When I was very young so many songs were sung
So much wasted time on an uphill climb
But you where always there, a feeling in the air
There was nothing to fear you were so near
Now you are here once again
As I stand in your presence
I can feel the quiet patience of your gaze
Like an old superstition
You are haunting all my dreams and waking days

(Chorus)
All my life I knew you were waiting, revelation anticipating
All is well, the search is over, let the truth be known
Let it be shown (give me a glimpse of home)

There's no resisting you among the chosen few
It's hard to be sure, it's hard to endure
And when I hear your voice
I know I have the choice
To pursue an ideal, something so real
Now I've got nothing to lose
As I see your reflection
All the answers I desire become so clear
Like a page that is turning
I can look into the future without fear

(Chorus)

You're in my rock and roll, you're in my very soul
Though it's heavy to bear, it's a feeling so rare
And it's a mystery, the way it's meant to be
Can we ever know, we're moving so slow
There ain't enough time in the world
As I reach up the ladder
There is something ever higher to perceive
Like a fire that is burning
In my heart I know I surely must believe

(Chorus)


As a young Christian looking for a music to define his spiritual journey, this song became a kind of "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" milestone for me. I can't be sure, but when I heard the lyrics above, I had the distinct impression that Livgren was talking about God/Jesus.

You see, though raised in a good Baptist home and church, I had in my youth become something of a doubter and skeptic. I tried to find reasons to ignore or overlook the Divine in what was around me, and I often came up with my own explanations as to why things happened as they did.

Yet even in my most skeptical moments, Jesus was there, "like an old superstition," haunting my days and my dreams.

I couldn't shake it. I couldn't shake him.

His patience and merciful stare seemed to follow me on matter where I went. His benevolent hand of mercy shielded me, protected me, even promoted me without my request.

He was there, a "revelation anticipating" my gaze, my faith.

One day I surrendered. Realizing that I was surrounded and enveloped by God, I gave in. I said, "Enough! I can't shake you, so I'll join you."

He kindly let me in. He also let me think it was my idea (grin).

This song defined that moment for me--the moment when I came face-to-face with God. He didn't blink. He opened his arms. He hugged me. He accepted me. He wanted me. He took me as I was.

His love has overwhelmed me ever since.

My search is over, I have found home. It is in the loving gaze of Jesus.

I love this song. Thank God for music!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

 

God, Theology, and Karl Barth

I know, I know, some may be a bit shocked to find Karl Barth here, but I wanted to share a couple of quotes from pages 25 and 26 of his The Humanity of God. Barth says:

"Theology is in reality not only the doctrine of God, but the doctrine of God and man. . . . [It stresses] the fact that man's relation to God is based on God's dealings with man, and not conversely."

"When the Christian gospel was changed into a statement, a religion, about Christian self-awareness, the God was lost sight of who in His sovereignty confronts man, calling him into acount, and dealing with him as Lord. This loss also blurred the sight horizontally."


Barth seems to be saying that when we do real theology, we must concern ourselves not just with Christian self-esteem or self understanding/identity, but rather we must focus on the reality of God's invasion of our very lives, even his untimely (or is it "timely"?) interventions in the everyday mundane existence of humanity.

Theology is a moot point if God is studied in isolation from his workings with humanity.

When we change Christian thought or preaching into some kind of boost to the individual Christian's self-esteem, we have really lost sight of true Christianity or theology. Theology has little to do with me. It has everything to do with God and his attempts to work with humans, for humans, and in humans. He is not just the model of all that is good, he is the Author, Creator, and Initiator of all that is good, perfect, just, and holy. What have I created lately that can compare to that?

Theology makes no sense without Christology, without salvation, without the God of the universe joining his creation as one of them, so that by living among humans he may redeem every aspect of humanity.

Jesus became sin so that we may be the righteousness of God.

Jesus took on the likeness of sinful flesh so that he might condemn sin in the flesh.

God deals with us by becoming one of us. He does for us what we can't do for ourselves. What we could not accomplish in our sinfulness, God accomplishes in the likeness of sinful flesh. The prize we lost he came to regain.

If we lose sight of that, our vision becomes blurred and we forget that we are a part of a larger story--God's Story.

I am not the star, he is.

It is not my dealings with God that produce good theology or even life itself. Rather, it is God's dealings with fallen humans that produce so much good and greatness.

God in Christ became one of us, so that he might win us and win for us the prize we lost by our own sin. Christ descended to our level, then re-ascends to God with his prize intact. His prize is a redeemed humanity, a reconciliation between what was lost and the One who loved it enough to go find it and purchase it at his own expense.

God's humanity in Christ thus creates a bond between the divine and human, between man and God that not only gives hope, but a possibility for a good future.

All that is good here in this fallen world is a direct result of God's goodness and dealings with us.

We did not create it, we did not cause it to happen, we cannot make it better.

God is the author and star.

His dealings with us produce more grace, more light, more truth.

Maybe we should let him do his job.

Thanks for reading!

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