Sunday, December 18, 2005
Truth is complicated...
Every Christian ought to be required to read Jacqueline Carey's The Sundering series (consisting currently of two books: Banewreaker and Godslayer). My wife, Julie, already had some great things to say about it over on her blog. The story is essentially Lord of the Rings told primarily from the "bad guys" point of view. We start to understand the motivations behind why the supposedly "evil" characters do as they do. We come to realize that good and evil are not so black and white, that it's a lot more complicated than that. We see the good motivations that underlie the bad guys, and we start to notice some of the darker reasonings underlying the good guys. We see that everyone is a complex mixture of light and dark, good and evil, folly and wisdom... just like people in real life.

I won't recap the story here, but I will say that this book reminded me that truth is complex. We don't live in a world of black and white, nor do we live in shades of gray. We live in a world of bright vibrant colors, where all the shades blend together and bleed over into one another. It's like living in a Monet painting. And it reminded me that if we want to pursue truth, if we want to pursue God really, then we have to start getting used to the complexity.

Honestly, sometimes I despair at whether this is really possible. It's so much easier to live in a world of black and white and I can understand why so many Christians choose simply to hang onto that view of things. But that too discourages me, because when I see so many Christians refusing to see the swirling colors of reality and speaking and living as if all things were simply black and white, it makes me wonder whether we care less about truth than we do about being "right". It seems like we'd rather have absolute certainty in our partial answers and half truths than do the hard work of wrestling with the complexity of reality.

And I guess what weighs me down the most is wondering whether it could be any other way. Can we create a church community that embraces complexity and doesn't rush to easy answers and quick judgments? Will our church in Yorkville be any different than the vast majority of churches out there who preach only a world of black and white? Honestly, I fear the judgment of those around me (those who will be in our new church plant and those around me in the broader Christian community - i.e. other pastors, churches, supporters, etc.) who don't want me to answer their questions with an "I don't know" or "It's complicated" or "Well... yes and no." If can't jump as quickly to condemn all the same things they condemn will they call me "wishy-washy"? If I show grace to sinners and allow people's lives within the church to be messy and in process, will people say I'm soft on sin? If I refuse to shelter their children from the complexities of reality will they think that our church is not a "safe place"?

Actually, it's not that I so much fear judgment against me personally. I fear what it means for the church, for the Body of Christ, if creating a community that deals with the complexities of life turns out to be impossible. I think what I'm scared of most is trying to plant a church that sees the world in color, and failing at it precisely because people only want a church that preaches a world of black and white. I don't want to lose hope that a faith community like I dream of really could exist.
posted by Mike Clawson at 10:36 PM | Permalink |


At 12/19/2005 09:49:00 AM, Blogger gerbmom

Excellent points raised. I agree. And I understand your concerns. My prayers are with you always.....


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