A certain fast food chain, many years ago, advertised a burged which kept the cool side cool, and the hot side hot. I guess this is because nasty, wilted lettuce is better when it sits in styrofoam, isolated from the burger that is going to eventually warm it up anyway.
This ad campaign is on my mind tonight, for what is maybe the most ridiculously, patently obvious reason you’re going to hear all day. The observation I want to make is that there are two, roughly equally important claims going on– #1) the hot part is supposed to stay hot. #2) The cool part is supposed to stay cool.
Today, Pastor Marty was preaching about the importance of healthy boundaries. And he said some things that I find kind of interesting. It’s not that I’ve never heard these things are true. It’s just that I’ve never much thought about them in terms of healthy boundaries.
Among other things, Marty talked about how, if we call ourselves Christians, loving on others is non-negotiable. Our boundaries can not be impenetrable. We have an obligation to let things out. He also focused on the scriptural expectation that we guard our hearts. Our boundaries can not be so insubstantial that we just let anything in to impact us.
It would be easy if this were a case of just finding a happy medium. If we just had to find the right balance between rigidity and permeabality, we could figure out where that place is, and just go there, be that, mantain that level.
But we have to guard against even the most mild assaults. We have to be prepared to let even small acts of love out.
It occurs to me that what we need is a cellular membrane. Cells need to allow certain things out. They need to keep other things in. They need to protect the vulnerable organelles from attacks from the outside. And yet they need to be able to transport other substances to other areas.
Scientists call this state semi-permeable. It is not a happy medium, really, between fully permeable (basically non-existent) and utterly impenetrable. It is an amazing system designed with special avenues of escape for that which needs to be shipped out and entry ways for that which needs to come in.
Our boundaries need to be like this. They need to allow what is good in. They need to resist what is bad.
This is not all of the story. Though. There is this contradictory truth I hold in tension with the one stated above. I think sometimes we are called on to bring dangerous things inside us. If we were on some bad space opera, we’d be dropping our force shield to allow the enemies in. Though we are most exposed, here, we also are at our most powerful.
I have been meditating on what it means to be Christlike, recently. I’ve been on this exploration of how Jesus won. And he won by losing. He experienced victory through defeat. He brought evil into him, knowingly, and intentionally, where he could transform it.
After a time of building up our boundaries, increasing our maturity, deepening our intimacy with God, I think we are called to drop them, sometimes. We are called to making a knowing and informed decision to have damage done to ourselves. We are called to fully suffer with our brothers and sisters.
This experience, which I have begun to call “undercoming” doesn’t need to fly in the face of the instruction that we guard our hearts. In fact, it it really emphasizes the importance of this. We must guard our hearts so that we have saved them for the fights that really matter. We must guard our hearts and also know that they are powerful, profound things, unbeatable in Christ.