Thursday, March 20, 2014

Inside, Outside

A common theme you will hear is that Christians are all about "heart change." "Stop trying to change yourself, you can't do it, you need God to change your heart." The idea is that an internal transformation needs to happen before the external, visible fruit does.

In a spectacular missing-of-the-point, however, this principle generally just serves to draw our attention inwards, toward the thing we cannot change- our hearts.  The idea is to get us to "stop being so legalistic" or some permutation of that criticism, but really what it's doing is to make us moreso- it's demanding we dwell on invisible, ineffable internality of the self which, for all its need to be changed, cannot possibly be seen, defined, or manipulated by the human will at all.

This is just another way we have of DIS-incarnating the faith. The Christian faith is not all about what happens inside me, to the ineffable selfhood of my being, or something like that.  It's all about what happened, historically, outside of me. Both outside of my body, my heart, and my intentions, but also completely outside of my lifetime- Christ crucified and risen from the grave.

When tempted to dwell on personal "faith adjustment" via some new internalism we think we've discovered, we ought to bring to mind that our attentions and machinations can't be directed at faith, or our intentions, or our motives, or anything else inside of us, because they're out of reach of the senses. Rather, it should be on the external thing that has been set before us humans; then WE will be able to set ourselves personally before IT, and like the adage goes, we will become like what we spend our time looking at.

Interested in entomology? Stare at a praying mantis for awhile.  After long enough, your mind will begin to think like the  one who designed it. Praying mantis-shaped pathways will form in your brain.  You're now a step closer to "mastering" insects.

So yes, we ought to do certain things at certain times, in order to allow the five senses to take it all in.  This type of external focus is the opposite of salvation via "self-effort" (as I've heard it called).  To doubt this is to doubt that God is at work in Creation, and assume that he has only to do with some extra-creational, super-spiritual mode of being, to which we are supposed to escape, if we are to be sanctified.

Enough super-spiritualism. Behold what is outside of you, with your five senses.  Behold Christ. Behold his work. Behold the good things in Creation, and the glory that it is all headed for.


Chris Auten said...

Good words, Nate. Nice to have you post your thoughts again. A personal plea from someone located about 80 east down the 1-40 corridor; I hope to see you write more often. Very refreshing and thought provoking.

Nate said...

Gee, thanks Chris. I didn't realize anyone would actually read that! I have been wanting to write a little bit more. I think I'll try to start posting short pieces of my thoughts that don't require too much editing. I appreciate your encouragement

Erin Hope said...

...I had an inkling. I see you're back at it. :) good stuff.