"Strange Dimness" for the Sake of Clarity ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Strange Dimness" for the Sake of Clarity

Over the last several days I've been thinking about how we have to retreat from the world occasionally in order to live in it. We have to hike away like Jesus and find the Father, and when this happens, in the words of the old song, "the things of this world will grow strangely dim / in the light of his wonderful face."

Well and good. Jesus did this all the time, getting up early and retreating into the hills. However, it seems like we often miss the consequences of these monkish hours: bold and effective interaction with the very world we temporarily flee from. No one confronted people like Jesus did. No one mingled with crowds like him, seeing the mass of sadness and struggle, simultaneously seeing each person singly. No one spoke directly to souls like Jesus. No one saw the world like Jesus.

Conclusion: We can't oversimplify Jesus' life, saying, "It's vital that we get away from this world like Jesus," or, "We need to spend all our time with people like Jesus." The truth, when it springs from Christ, tends to come to us in paradox. We retreat from the world in order to see the world clearly. God's love for people mandates that we learn to see the world in vivid, HD resolution. And so, occasionally, we allow the world to "grow strangely dim" so that we can more fully grasp that very reality.



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5 comments:

Ched said...

I like your insight about this paradox. It's easy to use Jesus' intentional solitude as a justification for cultural isolation. Good thoughts.

samlcarr said...

God is more connected and in stranger ways to his creaton than we are privy of but nonetheless he is also 'other'.

R. Sherman said...

I'm not sure that it truly is a paradox. That implies contradiction. In truth, isolation to commune with God and going into the world to share our knowledge of Him are part of a whole. We cannot have one without the other.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing them and thereby enriching me.

LEV

Ariel said...

It's easy to use Jesus' intentional solitude as a justification for cultural isolation.

This has been my experience as well. Thanks, Ched.

God is more connected and in stranger ways to his creaton than we are privy of but nonetheless he is also 'other'.

Amen. I think.

I'm not sure that it truly is a paradox.

I think the pattern deserves the "paradox" label because of the way it commonly defies understanding in the lives of believers. We find the monastic impulse, which is alive and well today in Christian ghettos, as well as the happy happy clapper impulse (I got that from a thick theology book) which arbitrarily implies that Christians should constantly enjoy "fellowship" and that their spiritual batteries should always be charged. By magic.

Strangely enough, it's more the exception than the rule that solitude and messy, loving community are linked as Jesus linked them. Apparently the connection doesn't follow logically for a lot of people.

Thusly, "paradox."

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife