AnonymousDeleted UserSeptember 30, 2020 at 2:37 am
When I was in undergrad, I attended our annual RUF summer conference in Florida, and I attended a workshop on “Christian Freedom”. At the time, I don’t think I fully understood how much that seminar would revolutionize my orientation towards my faith and Christian walk, but the speaker talked about how often we characterized our relationship to God as merely obedience, but that God wanted to make these dry bones breathe again, to live again, and that part of our regeneration, reanimation, resurrection was total transformation into a desire for righteousness, our sanctification so to speak.
The pastor talked about his own relationship to alcohol as an example, when he was in college, partying and being a drunkard, then the pendulum swinging in the other direction of piety and total abstinence, and how both were driven by sinfulness, the second being a desire to be right, follow the rules, pridefulness. How then were we to have a response rooted in Christian freedom, knowing that we are not condemned in drinking, we have the freedom to be drunkards but the transformation that Jesus desires in us and the Gospel is doing is helping us reorient to having a healthy relationship to alcohol?
This came to mind when I was reading Brueggemann’s “From Obedience to Praise, Duty to Delight”. I think that so much of my Christian walk has been this kind of growth in the last 10 years of my life. The most famous and well known opening line of the Westminster Catechism also came to mind for me: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. I think in the New Calvinist movement, I have often heard people emphasize the first part of the answer, waxing on “God’s Glory,” but I often heard less people talk about the second part of enjoying God forever.
I think that God is most glorified in our joy, and we cannot know joy without the whole range of human experiences and emotions. “If we aren’t capable of being hurt, we aren’t capable of feeling joy”- Madeline L’engle, <u style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>The Ring of Endless Light. This resonates for me with Brueggemann’s orientation, disorientation, and new orientation which leads to the road of praise and delight. Our movement through the cycles of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation are not evidence of a lack of faith or growth (as some would probably think backsliding), but cyclic progress of faith.
The Psalms are those seasons of human life, movement, light, change, the impressionist haystacks I spoke of last week. I think we can understand the Psalms like the impressionist paintings, the haystacks that we come back to again and again to examine and repaint again to see new colors, nuances, and lights. I am encouraged to see the Psalms in this new light and way and to understand it in light of that which God has encouraged and taught me in life.
I also thought I might share this song from the Sufjan Stevens album that recently came out called “The Ascension”, I thought the song and it’s lyrics resonated well with our topic this week. I think he speaks of his own movement and journey of faith through orientation, disorientation, and new orientation.