A whole lot of Shakin’ goin’ on

The more time I spend in scripture, the more I come back to this theme: that God plans to redeem and purify the world itself.  There’s this common understanding that we’re headed somewhere else after we die.  This understanding is rooted on two dangerous preconceptions. 

The first is that the Earth itself is irredeemable.  I don’t want to live in denial of sin, of what we have done.  But it’s a lot like our humanity itself.  Though we do have a sin-nature, this came after the fact of our glorious creation, where we were made in the image of God.  The whole point is to get back to our most basic nature.

And so it is with the Earth itself: once it was so perfect.  The idea that God is restoring, rather than re-creating, speaks to this fact.

The second dangerous is idea is that have nothing to do with this reclamation and redemption.  If our eternal home were somewhere impossibly distant for us, we couldn’t possibly do anything to bring this about.  And it’s certainly true that left to our own devices, and under our own power, we still can’t do anything.  But Jesus is working among us to create the Kingdom of God, right here.

While reading through Hebrews, recently, I came across this metaphor I never paid much attention to.  The idea is that in this life, the earth and heavens will shake.  They will shake as a result of our interactions and disobedience to God. 

But the promise is, in the next life, the heavens and earth won’t shake.  The whole point of this life is that whatever can not be shaken will remain into the next life.

What an incredibly human and subtle demonstration!

Have you ever been working on something and wondered if it was going to hold?  Perhaps to test it, you’ve shaken or tugged on it.  When you were done, after subjecting it to that pressure, you were confident that it would make it through.

It’s like tugging on a luggage strap to make sure that it would hold.  It’s like putting half your weight on an iced-over lake to see if it’ll support your weight.   It’s like a factory simulating the pressures on material before putting them in a car or on a bridge.  Perhaps, most of all, It’s like when you have a heaping bowl of something hot and you shake it gentle back and forth, to make sure that it won’t all fall out over the edges as you walk over to the table.   


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “A whole lot of Shakin’ goin’ on”

  1. You seem to be intimating that there’s something we do that cooperates with God’s plan to reclaim the earth. Would you care to dispell or elaborate?

    It might be unfair to ask for a list. Yet, there’s a qualitative component to your assertion that begs for some examples. The remainder of your post suggests that there are things that will remain after God ‘shakes’ away the bad to restore the good. i’m not making the argument that this isn’t so; rather i think it would be better use of time and space to be very clear about what God says will remain, and what we hope will remain.


  2. Holy crap, Garret. I spent a bit of time looking for the sort of support I believed to be there. Either I misunderstood some people, or some people are similarly mislead… People who I generally agree with, people who get lots of stuff right. Give me another day or two. I’ll post a full response. Mostly, I think the response will be “Wow, was I wrong.”


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