Friday, April 22, 2016

Seeing in Stereo

 So what's the central fact of our existence? Is it that we are created? Being a creation implies total ownership of the creation by the Creator and total freedom to the Creator to adjust his creation to serve his purposes better. It carries with it 100% obligation on our part to fulfil our Creator's purposes for us and 0% obligation on his part to answer to us for anything he does.  Any wilful deviation from his purposes is a cosmic fault. Sounds so dire, doesn't it. But it's not. It's simply what being his creation means.

Or is the central fact that we are loved? Through love we find that a large portion of his purposes are focused on blessing us and broadening, not narrowing our scope. Through love we find that the cosmic fault has been mended at immense personal cost to our Creator. Through love we find that somehow this Being, of a so much higher order than ourselves, is ever interested in relationship with us personally, as families, tribes, churches, communities, nations, and the whole world, and not merely pleased to watch, "from a distance" he has come to be present among us. It all amazes us and causes us to return his love.

So much talk these days focuses on the second "central fact" that I find myself ever in defence of the first, yet if I had found myself in a more judgemental age, I would have become the irritating advocate of love. But it's not so much the focus that's the issue. It's the apparent embarrassment we have with the first fact that bothers me.

My take is that these two are like separate frames of the same stereo view. Only if we keep both eyes open do we see in three dimensions. If we focus on one over the other, our view is distorted and flat. Stark dichotomy ensues. God the Judge vs. God the Lover. Law vs. Grace. Pick your poison and choose your side. Complementary pairs become theological battle lines.

"He who has been forgiven much loves much" is a statement that sees in stereo. Awareness of the need to be forgiven proceeds from the awareness of the depth of the offence against the just claims of the Creator. He is not arbitrarily and vindictively enforcing his claims. The claims are inescapable because they are inherent in being his creation. Offence against them is of incalculable harm; to us, to our loved ones, to the whole universe. And the costly healing of this harm by the one who had no obligation to us, rightly produces a love response in us. But outside of this understanding, love because of received mercy is irrelevant, because we just have no idea of what forgiveness means or what the mercy cost.

Yes this how it looks from my position in the Amphitheature, but it's as valid as your view.