Exploring the interplay between ortho-doxy (right belief) and ortho-praxy (right action)...

...and encouraging a life where these intertwined thoughts and deeds simply happen... by default.

12 December 2006

love the world? (12-13-06)

I love this quote from Bishop Tom Wright...

"The Christian calling is to know the world with a knowledge that approximates to love. And the point about love - the epistemology which love generates - is that love both affirms the other-ness of the object (objectivity) while remaining in deep, rich and close subjective (subjectivity) relationship to it. Love transcends the objective-subjective divide."

Indeed. Love - true love - is a beautiful marriage of objectivity and subjectivity. It is not merely objective. That kind of 'love' would be distant, detatched, indifferent and irrelevant. Also, it it not merely subjective, either. That kind of 'love' would be spine-less, scared, watered-down and weak.

Objectivity can't handle interactions with things that are not like 'it'. Objectivity remains detatched and protects its own 'other-ness', lest it become 'corrupted' from interaction with the alien 'other'. Because it remains detatched, it will never make a difference. It either escapes altogether, or watches from a distance.

Likewise, subjectivity will never make a difference. It is so interactive with the 'other' that it takes on the very nature of the 'other' and is therefore no longer itself, and therefore no longer able to influence or change. It is either enveloped-into or itself invelops the other.

God is often described in some of these ways. On one hand, God's holiness and un-changing nature certainly seems in-corruptable and 'objective.' But is God so 'objective' that He remains detatched, dis-interested and removed from reality? Most certainly not! The Scriptures testify to God dwelling among and being active in His creation - supremely so in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, God's gentle care and sacrificial love seems to point to a more 'subjective' quality of God. But is that to say that God is a push-over or that He compromises His own nature? No way! The Scriptures are clear that God is not mocked, He does not change and there is none like Him!

Not only do we mis-understand the nature of God in these ways, we also can mis-represent Him in these same ways. We can seek to be so pure and undefiled above all else (not 'of' the world, but unfortunately also not 'in' it!) that we have little or no effect on it. Purity and holiness is vital and important, but that purity and holiness needs to be seen by the impure and un-holy world we live in. This means we cannot retreat into our 'Christian' corner of the world.

Also, we can seek to be so 'relevant' in the world ('in' the world, but also unfortunately 'of' it), that we end up being just like it, and therefore have little or no effect on it once again. We must speak in the world's language and meet them where they are at, but all the while taking care that we are imitating Christ, not the world. How can we expect the world to care about our hope when we dream, plan, spend and consume just like the rest of the world?

I think of two verses that could be seen as contradictory, but aren't - especially in this light. The first is the 'objective' 1 John 2:15; "Do not love the world, nor the things of this world." The second is the 'subjective' John 3:16; "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." It's not either/or. It's both.

May we love God as God loves the world. In objectivity, may we see the 'other-ness' of the 'world' not as a threat to escape from, but as a field to work in. In subjectivity, may we seek interaction with the world not in order to imitate it, but in order to influence it.

3 comments:

kevin beck said...

Hi Dale.

I;m trying to post again. let's see if it works this time.

kevin beck said...

Hey! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

John said...

Dale,
I really enjoy reading your stuff. I've posted a link on my blog. Stop by sometime.