At church today, I was struck hard by one of the songs. Particularly by these lyrics, “Where you lead me Lord, I will follow/ where you heal me Lord, I will go.”
I don’t quite know why I was so struck by these lines. It doesn’t hurt that Laurie, who song them, it’s like her voice was made for this part of the song. Whatever it was, it practically left my weeping.
I had this realization that the fall happened on so many levels, and the redemption as well means so many different things.
One of the many ways we try to put God in a box is that we pick and choose one thing that the fall and redemption meant. For example, there is a traditional strain of Christianity that has been all about the idea that the fall of mankind meant that individual souls are destined to spend eternity in Hell. On this account, the redemption of Jesus opens up the possibility for individual souls to end up in heaven.
There is a more contemporary, social-justice minded strain of Christianity that says the fall of mankind was about a brokenness in the social fabric. The redemption of Jesus, these people say, is about the restoration of a political, collective reality.
Others might point to the cosmic, external ramifications of the fall. The external world was broken when Eve and Adam ate the fruit. As Paul tells us, the whole of creation is groaning in anticipation of Christ’s return.
The unlikely bedfellows post modernists and born-agains focus on the fall as a place where a relationship was broken. Jesus life and death were the place where that relationship gets restored.
Permit me, if you will, a little digression on that last thought.
I think it’s worth being a little catious when the preoccupations of a certain place and time appear to explain something outside of that place and that time. It’s been pointed out that hydraulic systems were all the rage at the time of Freud, and this influence plays itself out in how Freud explained consciousness. In the early 80’s, holograms were a new and nifty idea. I remember a book came out which explained the way the brain works by referring to the nature of holograms.
Similarly, relationships in general are incredibly important to post moderns. It’s worth getting a little skeptical, when post moderns make Jesus’ sacrifice about relationship. It’s important to ask, “Did it take the post modern lens to identify the importance of relationship? Or did the post modern lens lead us to project an emphasis on relationship that was already there.”
I’m not saying that viewing the fall as a place where relationships were broken is all wrong. Especially if the term “relationship” is used in the widest possible sense: not just about the interaction between two different personalities, but the interaction between one personality and the world around it.
(We use the term “personality” in this second, wider sense, when we say things like “I have an unhealthy relationship with food.” Nobody thinks you’re suggesting that food has a personality. They get that it’s about your interactions with the impersonal food.)
It seems to me, at the bare minimum, in the Garden of Eden, our relationship with each other was broken; our relationship with our creator was damaged; our relationship with our future destination was imperiled; our relationship with the outside world was shattered.
This is to say nothing of our relationship with ourselves.
It’s so hard to wrap my brain around the fullness of it all: the utter devestation caused by the fall, the amazing glory of Jesus life and death. Actually, I guess that it’s more than just hard. It’s impossible.
That’s why it’s so awesome that my thoughts aren’t really what counts. The whole thing isn’t a brain thing. It’s a faith thing. Faith means that my heart has to be ready for the truth, it doesn’t mean that my mind needs to comprehend it.