Person in progress

Sorry for the pause in posts. Sometimes you’re too busy living life to stop and write about it. I figure in the end no one loses when that happens.

Having finally finished the initial drafts of a book, I finally regained the time to start reading again. When I get free time now, I’m reading through any one of the myriad of books that friends insist I must read sometime. Making my way through them, I am reminded of how difficult it can be to expand a mind that has fallen into a groove.

I remember being in a place where I was constantly learning things. And I don’t mean just information. I mean that my mind was being changed. That’s not mere assimilation or accommodation of knowledge, it’s an alteration of the way I think. It’s exhausting but exhilarating. Like the familiar world around you suddenly becomes new again, charged with attraction and interest.

I remember days like that when I was younger. I don’t have them as much anymore. I suppose that’s good in some ways and bad in others. It’s good because a mind that’s constantly shifting and reforming can hardly hold anything in at all. Like my astute wife asked one of her high school teachers one day: “Is it possible for your mind to be so open that your brains fall out?” I think so.

But it can also be a bad thing to have a permanently fixed mental map of everything, because that means that you’ve quit learning. I really can’t imagine how that can be a good thing. I hope I’m still learning, still curious, even when my hair is all white.

Maybe the important things get settled first, then the details change over time. Every now and then you have to renovate something structural in your mind, but for the most part you keep the same foundations. Never mind the fact that it’s out of fashion these days to speak of philosophical or theological “foundations.” Metaphors break down at some point or another, but I think this one still has its merits.

What I’m trying to say is that we should always be people in progress. We should never decide that we’ve arrived and that we have nothing important left to learn. I mean that for just about every area of life. But in particular I’m thinking about my spiritual life and the life of my church.

I think we should always allow ourselves permission to not have it all figured out. I think that we must experiment… try new things out once in a while. Maybe even “play” with things a little bit.

Little children learn by play. They learn by discovery, sometimes even unstructured exploration. They’re not supposed to already know “the right way” to do everything. So they play at it for a while and try out different things. Toys, playgrounds, dress-up clothes… really everything becomes a playground for someone who’s still learning what things are and how they work.

I think that’s the way we are with spiritual things. Sure, some things are steady constants. We already know we need fellowship with each other, and communion with God, and faith, etc. But the way we work these things out is filled with potential for discovery. Let’s never fall into the trap of thinking we’ve got it all figured out. Let’s never become hardened in our own traditions, even while maintaining those things that we know bring life and reflect His nature.

And please allow me the freedom to not have all the answers, either. I tend to blog my thoughts on things that matter to me, and often I speak in answers as much as in questions (Who wants to read a blog full of nothing but unanswered questions?). But I can’t promise that I’ll always write that way. I’m discovering that I’ve still got plenty of loose ends in my own mind about some things.

What kind of things? Alright, I’ll list the biggest one for now:

What is the church’s role in the world?

I think I know what Paul thought about that. And for now it’s still what I think about it. But I find myself needing to ask if there were questions that Paul didn’t answer because his circumstances didn’t require him to ask them. Like how does the Church function within a democracy? Or how do you plant a church in an area already saturated with Christian culture and symbols? That’s just a sample. We’re gonna have to discover some things for ourselves using what we already know as our guide.

So forgive me if I sound contradictory for a while. I’m a work in progress.

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One Response to “Person in progress”

  1. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    Somehow, for me, this post is like a breath of fresh air.

    Honestly, more like a gasp….

    I wonder sometimes if some “answers” aren’t given because Paul and Co. just took the potential “questions” for granted.

    Maybe there were some things so basic, so fundamental, that Paul (& Co.) simply did not feel the need to mention them (or mention them much).

    On the other hand, maybe that was the Spirits way of saying, “You have the keys,…YOU drive!”.

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