I invite you to meditate on this image. I drew it during my studies in Missional Theology a few years ago. It came to mind today as another convergence of ideas came upon me.

  1. Yesterday I listened to The Homebrewed Christianity podcast with Greg Boyd. Tripp Fuller interviewed Boyd about his new book Crucifixion of the Warrior God. Boyd wrestles with the apparent tension between the angry, vengeful God of the Hebrew Scripture and the loving, gracious God revealed through Jesus. Boyd claims that, upon deeper reading, there is no tension at all and God is the gracious God revealed through the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus from beginning to end of the Scriptural narrative. It’s worth a listen.
  2. The Clergy Stuff Narrative Lectionary daily reading for today is Ephesians 3:13. Paul says, “I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.” The devo talks about how an experience in a 30-hour fast helped the author use suffering to understand another person’s suffering.
  3. I had the privilege to make a presentation on Spiritual Formation yesterday to the Narrative Lectionary work group that met at Luther Seminary. During the presentation I said that one of the major reasons I was drawn into Lutheran Theology is because of its ability to handle paradox. Lutheran thinking offers something helpful for what the postmodern mind needs.
  4. Last week we preached on differences and how to handle conflict in the church. I blogged about conflict and finding a third way here. The sermon is here.
  5. Richard Rohr’s meditation today is titled Saved by the Cross. Rohr says,

The cross is a perfect metaphor for what I meant when I titled one of my books Everything Belongs. God is to be found in all things, even and most especially in the painful, tragic, and sinful things—exactly where we do not want to look for God. The crucifixion of the God-Man is at the same moment the worst and best thing in human history. It validates the central notion of paradox at the heart of Christianity.

The cross is saying that there is a cruciform pattern to reality. Reality is not meaningless and absurd (chaos/no patterns/nihilism), but neither is it perfectly consistent (rationalism/scientism/fundamentalism). Reality, rather, is filled with contradictions, what Bonaventure (1221-1274) and others called “the coincidence of opposites.” Bonaventure even found sacred geometry in the symbol of the cross: “For the center is lost in a circle, and it cannot be found except by two lines crossing each other at a right angle.” In other words, some kind of suffering is the only way to reconcile differences.

I encourage you to read the rest of the meditation.

It was Rohr’s contrast between the meaningless absurdity of chaos/no patterns/nihilism and perfect consistency of rationalism/scientistism/fundamentalism that sparked the reposting of the image above. The Deconstructive nihilism that is so prevalent today is a reaction against modern rationalism. Neither extreme offer a complete perspective on reality. There is a third way. It is not a new way, but seems new and odd to those of us raised on Western rationalistic Christian theology.

All of these ideas converged on me this morning and helped to remind me that life isn’t supposed to be easy or even make sense all the time. We aren’t supposed to have storybook days where everything we do in every moment is packed with obvious meaning and purpose. We live in a messy, complex world where God is as hidden as God is revealed; where pain and suffering is as important as joy and bliss; where our salvation is found in our ability to enter into the suffering of the other and bring peace and wholeness to the world.

That’s what God did for us through Jesus on the cross. That is the Way that Jesus calls us to follow.

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