Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Consistency, Thou Art a Jewel!

This has been a busy time for me... hard to find a moment to sit down and blog! But I'm away from home this week, so I have some time. Took our younger daughter and her close friend to a writer's conference for the week. LaRae and I are both here with them. We're working in the hotel room on various projects, and I'm sure we will do a little shopping at some point. 

LaRae is studying Latin over the summer so she can get into 3rd or 5th semester this fall. (Just depends on how much of the textbook she gets through.) She is also going to Clep Chemistry at the end of summer so she won't have to spend an entire semester on a subject she isn't highly interested in. She's studying for that as well as keeping up her Greek. 

First thing I read this morning was my Slice of Infinity from RZIM. It was so tuned to my thoughts of late... I'm amazed at how lost we are as a culture when it comes to holding ourselves accountable to rational thought. We can be completely inconsistent and it never bothers us. We are drowning in the "both and" plural realities of postmodernism, and we don't even realize it. Even as so-called followers of Christ, many are completely comfortable with "your truth" and "my truth," which, of course, is a total contradiction to Christ's claim that He--alone--is truth. 

I pray daily that God will make me aware of any inconsistency in my own life. I know that I, like all, am a fish in the bowl of my own culture, and it is easy to have my view outside the bowl blurred--it's easy to have blind spots. Jill Carattini speaks of this inconsistency problem below. 

May her piece inspire you as it has me to examine more closely my thinking and living. I believe there is truth, and I'm all about being real, finding truth and living it with all my heart! As I look into the face of Jesus in complete dependency and trust, I see no other way to live. It takes mental effort--a lot of effort--but I'm convinced it's the way the Bible instructs us to live: carefully, thoughtfully, diligently, honestly, consistently.

At Home in Inconsistency

A popular U.S. comic strip once held the attention of millions as it chronicled the misadventures of a boy and his stuffed tiger. The infamous pair was inseparable, lingering energetically in topics both adult and childlike. One day on a walk in the woods, six-year-old boy Calvin announces to Hobbes the tiger that he has decided he doesn't believe in ethics anymore, because, as far as he's concerned, "The ends justify the means." "Get what you can while the getting is good," Calvin reasons, "Might makes right."

At this, Hobbes, who is a stuffed tiger in the eyes of all but Calvin, promptly pushes his human friend into a mud hole.

"Why'd you do that?" Calvin objects.

"You were in my way," Hobbes replies, "and now you're not.  The ends justify the means."

Sitting in the mud, Calvin seems to reach a brief moment of enlightenment, until he uncovers a way to reconcile the conflict with self-interest: "I didn't mean for everyone, you dolt. Just me."

One of the more striking things to confront in each of the four Gospel accounts, besides Jesus himself, is the reactions people had to him. When in his presence, some like Mary and the man with leprosy fell instantaneously at his feet, others like the young rich ruler or the people of Nazareth turned away. In his presence some cried for mercy and others who needed a doctor were confronted with the question of whether or not they wanted to be well. In the presence of Jesus of Nazareth, choices were made, realities were challenged, worldviews were transformed.

Ironically, those deemed unrighteous and dishonorable by the social standards of the day were often the most responsive to the demands of Jesus. I have often wondered if this was because they were the ones most willing to see themselves rationally, those most willing to respond to their own inconsistencies with fear and trembling. In the presence of Christ, the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda came to see the contradictions he lived with, his unlivable beliefs, and his need for direction. The Samaritan woman at the well saw not only that Jesus was speaking truth, but that he was truth, and that his way was livable and hers was not. Called into the presence of Christ, Zacchaeus saw the depravity of his methods and the great hunger of his life for something more. Conversely, the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus's instruction because it was a request and reality that he could not face.

Francis Schaeffer called the cultural phenomenon of living unaware or unconcerned with our inconsistencies "the age of non-reason." He saw humans drifting in a sea of irrationality, willing to live with great contradictions, no longer living as though they had to be reasonable. Yet he also contended that a person's worldview must be livable, and that we must be willing and able to live out the reality we profess.

As the young Calvin once said to his animated tiger, "Reality continues to ruin my life!" Finding himself in the mud, Calvin saw clearly that he could not live with the outworkings of his theory (though he proceeded to mend the belief illogically). It is both brave and essential to confront the belief systems that hold our lives and shape our ways. I believe that the Christian faith makes sense of life's most foreboding questions, and that it is livable because it is true. Christ gently unearths the dark and fatal inconsistencies of our lives, calling us to consistency, to reality, to truth, to himself.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.