Friday, August 13, 2010

An Invitation to Radical Potentiality

I don't, typically, post duplicate messages in this space. But today my regular blog entry is exactly appropriate for the ongoing "Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian" discussion.

Here it is. If you've already read this on my other sites, sorry to waste your click! But if you're new to my blog and want something along these lines every day, then stop by again, or go to A Life Examined on a daily basis.

God's Peace - DEREK

"An Invitation to Radical Potentiality"

I've always liked gates... doors... roads that wind... pathways that meander... windows big enough to climb through. I have photographed "openings" - almost unconsciously - for years, never really thinking about why.

I was reminded of this the other day, going through some photographs with Rebekah's sister, Rachel. Last year our "Italy Adventure" had overlapped with Rachel and Tom's trip for a few hours and we'd enjoyed lunch together in Pisa. Rachel was looking at the powerpoint presentation I'd shared with some friends at church.

Two photographs grabbed my attention. The first is pasted above, at the opening to this post. The medieval town of Monteriggioni sits on a Tuscan hillside a few miles north of Sienna. Looking up, from the road, the traveler can see one of the arched entrances to the town - a pinhole view into the city.

Later, exploring the walled settlement, I took this view, looking out and across the Tuscan vista. It's the same aperture, but a radically different view.

Then, and this is my divergency for you, my inability - or maybe unwillingness - to think exclusively according to a linear model, one of my favorite scriptures about what it means to be "saved" jumped into my mind. Here it is, then I'll try to discuss why I think it's profound!

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:9-10 - read the whole chapter, it's awesome!)

I love the image of Jesus as a transitional platform: "I am the gate." Jesus moves, so comfortably, beyond the role of simply drawn person and into the more abstract function of catalyst. Jesus is describing himself as a kind of portal through which people can pass - and it seems as though they can come and go at will.

I believe this is an important concept when we think about what Jesus is really getting at when he uses the word "saved." The biblical uses of the word are much deeper, richer and more multi-layered than the one-dimensional, flat invitation... threat... ticket-to-heaven... say-the-magic-words mantras chanted by so many modern-day practitioners of my-way-or-the-highway religion.

The invitation of Jesus is to step into a new world. Faith in those terms is like moving from the walled-city and into the amazing landscape of unlimited possibility - of abundance; or, as in one of my favorite translations, "The life that is really life." and "More and better life than they ever dreamed of" (The Message).

Maybe that's where this fascination for windows and doors and gates and winding paths comes from. I believe God is speaking to me, constantly reminding me that being a disciple - a pilgrim - is more than a window of possibility; that - through Jesus - faith is an invitation to radical potentiality.

It's Friday. And, as always, this is a great day to be alive!

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