The Beauty of an Open Mind

There is a wondrous open-mindedness about children and an insatiable desire to learn from life. An open attitude is like an open door–a welcoming disposition toward the fellow travelers who knock on our door during the middle of the day, the middle of the week, or the middle of a lifetime. Some are dirtballs, grungy, disheveled, and bedraggled. The sophisticated adult within me shudders and is reluctant to offer them hospitality. They may be carrying precious gifts under their shabby rags, but I still prefer clean shaven Christians who are neatly attired, properly pedigreed, and who affirm my vision, echo my thoughts, stroke me, and make me feel good. Yet my inner child protests, “I want new friends, not old mirrors.”

When our inner child is not nurtured and nourished, our minds gradually close to new ideas, unprofitable commitments, and the surprises of the Spirit. Evangelical faith is bartered for cozy, comfortable piety. A failure of nerve and an unwillingness to risk distorts God into a Bookkeeper, and the gospel of grace is swapped for the security of religious bondage.

“Unless you become as little children…” [Matthew 18:3]

I fear for the lawyer whose only life is corporate tax, the doctor whose whole existence is someone else’s prostate, the business executive whose single responsibility is to his stockholders, the athlete who puts all his eggs in an 18-inch basket, the theologian who thinks the world can be saved by theology… A closed mind kills marriages and human relations; it deadens feelings and sensitivities; it makes for a church that lives in a thousand and one tunnels, with no communication and no exit.

(Walter Burghardt, Grace on Crutches: Homilies for Fellow Travelers; p. 144)

If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own. We listen to people in other denominations and religions. We don’t find demons in those with whom we disagree. We don’t cozy up to people who mouth our jargon. If we are open, we rarely resort to either/or–either creation or evolution, liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna. We focus on both/and, fully aware that God’s truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition. Of course, the open mind does not accept everything indiscriminately–Marxism and capitalism, Christianity and atheism, love and lust, Moët Chandon and vinegar. It does not absorb all propositions equally like a sponge, nor is it as soft. But the open mind realizes that reality, truth, and Jesus Christ are incredibly open-ended.

~ Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel (pp.65-66)

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Jesus, Risks, and the Hobbit

[[WHILE THIS POST IS A COMPILATION OF IDEAS, IT IS A LITTLE SCATTERED AT TIMES. PERHAPS I WILL COMPILE AND BETTER ORGANIZE MY THOUGHTS IN THE NEAR-FUTURE, BUT FOR THE TIME BEING I JUST NEED TO GET THE CONTENT onto paper AND I PRAY THAT IT IS COHESIVE ENOUGH TO GET MY POINT ACROSS.]]

 

As I was watching The Hobbit tonight, I had a few key things come to mind (don’t worry, I won’t give any spoilers).

I think it’s pretty clear that we all love epic tales. We love stories of mass adventures and journeys into the unknown. Lord of the Rings, Narnia, the Bourne movies, the list goes on and on.

I started to think about why that is, and at the end of the day, I think it’s because we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

We flock to theatres, buy novels, plaster our walls (both physically and electronically) with posters and visual content, and much more to express our interaction with these themes; but for me, this exposed in me (and surely in others) a dangerous reality.

We long for the interaction and involvement in grander themes, something “bigger” than us, having a greater purpose, and yet we leave it to the movies we watch, the pages we turn, and the stories we read. We long to play a part and yet settle for living vicariously through a character while we are a passive observer.

Why?

I think it’s because we know that it will cost us.

We know that with these sorts of involvement, there is risk. We want the benefits without the costs, we want the enjoyment of being significant without the dangers of being disliked by some.

Allow me to hone in on this a little bit. I do not want this to be some generic, conceptual argument with vague intentions which significant, tangible realities are swirling around this.

There is a higher calling for our lives than observing adventures happen on a television screen. Jesus calls us to follow Him. We are being called upon to be agents of reconciliation and proclaim His Gospel to the world (2 Cor 5:18-19). We are being called to advance His Kingdom and live in such a way that the world will see that we value something more than anything else this world can offer us.

We are being called by God to make much of HIM, not ourselves.

The truth is.. it will cost us, but His promise is sure.

Jesus says we may lose everything (see the book of Job), but He is enough.

The Bible says that you may be rejected by men (John 15:18), but He alone will sustain you and never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Without fragmenting this too much, I look at how I’m living and look at the scriptures and see a great imbalance. I read stories in the Bible and desire the interactions and communing with God that these men and women had, and yet I often seek to do as little as possible to receive it. Perhaps it’s my Westernized, American mentality or perhaps we’ve just used that as an excuse for far too long. All I know it that there’s an imbalance, and I don’t wish for it to be a defining factor for me any more.

At the end of the day, we must risk. We must venture into the unknown, but in doing so, we can hold firm to the fact that our God will remain with us, and that He is ever-victorious; that either in our life or our death, He will be made much of and magnified.

Joel Houston (lead singer of Hillsong United) says, “all too often we look at injustice and say to ourselves ‘that’s not right; that’s not fair’ and then chance the channel or get on with supper.”

We identify with it, but that’s often times all we do, because for us to ever do something about it will actually cost us something.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the generation that can hold doctrinally-sound beliefs and do absolutely nothing about it other than debate people.

I desire to be a part of a generation that acts on those beliefs. A generation that lives them out. I want us as Christians to be known for our intentionality and urgency in what we believe–while being characterized by love. I want to live in such a way that even if my friends don’t believe the same things I do, they know I believe it, and it shapes the way I live.

Are we believing in God to move in impossible situations? Are we even asking Him to? Or are we writing Him off before we even give Him the chance to do something?

The Bible says that God is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and so even the most far-fetched, impossible-seeming, most ridiculous aspiration you have in reaching someone or doing something for the sake of the Gospel, God can do even more.

God desires to make His name great and for our lives to be consumed with bringing Him glory. May we stop settling for adventures and epic tales on a movie screen when we have one laying right in front of us.

May we live with a Gospel urgency and intentionality, knowing that not just what we think about Jesus, but how we live for (and proclaim!) Him is necessary in making Him known in our specific contexts.

May we live out this Gospel, depend on Jesus, and love God passionately as we seek for His Kingdom to advance.

Praying for this.

Christmas Love

C. S. Lewis put it like this,

‘Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.’

There is no way to have a real relationship without becoming vulnerable to hurt. And Christmas tells us that God became breakable and fragile. God became someone we could hurt. Why? To get us back. And if you believe this and take it into your life, you’re blessed. As you take in the truth of what he did for you—how loved and affirmed you are—you’ll be able to let down your defenses in your own relationships with other people. You won’t always need to guard your honor. You’ll be able to let down the barriers down. You’ll be able to move into intimate relationships with other people.

What is in the package of Christmas? His vulnerability for intimacy with us, which gives us the vulnerability to be intimate with the people around us. If you believe in Christmas—that God became a human being—you have an ability to face suffering, a resource for suffering that others don’t have.

~~ Tim Keller

C.S. Lewis on the Danger of Love

If you were having a cup of tea with C. S. Lewis on Valentine’s Day, and you asked him sincerely, “Mr. Lewis, am I better not to love because it’s so risky?” — he might say something like this:

Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that his teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

The Four Loves, (New York, Harcourt, 1960), Kindle Location 1541.

Original Post found on Desiring God’s website here: http://ow.ly/94IDI