So I've been continuing to read some urban theology books today (Ok, ok… I promise I'll stop going on about this at some point in the future ;)) And continuing to read has left me continuing to wrestle with some of the questions… You know the, good-but-hard questions?!
Because I work with the very-broken, yet I still believe in the God of all-healing. And I am passionate about issues of justice for the oppressed, but sometimes I question whether I'm really part of the solution in the way I live this out. And I'm a naturally fierce optimist who works with hope, but sometimes the darkness just seems so big… I mean, where do you even start?
And you can academically wrestle with some of these arguments, but truthfully, the lived-out-real-impact response is far harder.
I've worked in the social care field for a number of years now, and so I know that for all our good and well-intentioned projects and proposals… There's a gap. A big one. The main one. Because our human zeal and best efforts cannot truly change anyone, or deeply heal any hearts, or alter the structural injustices that plague our society. And for all my best efforts, I have to admit that my natural human inclination is to be part of the problem. Because I fight an internal war against pride and selfishness that only the grace of God rescues me from.
And I wrestle with these things. Deeply. In prayer. I wrestle. They affect me. The brokenness of the world marks me. The hopelessness of individuals pains me. And I know that all the noble human endeavors on the planet cannot truly heal the human heart. I know my own story, and it was not nice words, or kind actions that brought wholeness to my emptiness. I valued these things, but they were not what made the real life changing difference to my future. Counselling could help but it alone could not heal.
The darkness in our world looks so overwhelming sometimes, and the underwhelming nature of our response seems so small.
But this morning, as I wrestled through these questions in prayer, and as I thankfully-thought about my own rescue and healing and began to dwell upon a Beautiful God, my meditations fell upon Revelation 1.
Jesus. The Hope of the world.
…and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash round his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
He is so stunning. And yet so terrifying. And I hide myself in Him. And yet in knowing that He fights for justice but is so full of mercy, He alone stands as the Hope of the world.
I was then reminded of the words that the Lord gave to Moses when he stood before Pharaoh and declared,
'Let My people go, so that they may worship Me…’
And I love the hope here. The real hope. Because Moses does not stop with, 'Let My people go.' He doesn't stop with the intervention of man or our human ideas about freedom. Instead he declares the purpose for which the people shall be brought to freedom – to worship Yahweh. The only true God.
We are freed from the darkness in order to live in the Light. We are liberated so that we can encounter God. Fighting injustice alone is not enough. Because we only experience true freedom and healing and hope when we then encounter the God of Exodus. The God of justice. Because He brings hope. He stops nightmares, and restores dreams, and brings complete and total healing in the ability to forgive and be forgiven. We worship Jesus. We live for Him.
How can I get tired when I'm gazing at those eyes of fire burning passion over me. I'll never stop gazing (Harvest Bashta).
In my reading today, I came up to this brilliant quote that summed up some of my thoughts and prayers.
Finally, we must travel in hope. The problems confronting the urban world of today are immense and attempts at their solution seem to be blocked again and again by resistance and opposition from enormously powerful vested interests. One notices constantly a spirit of resignation on the part of many well-intended scholars who offer excellent analyses of urban problems, only to despair the possibility of real change and transformation. It is precisely at this point that a theological perspective becomes so important. The prophet Isaiah caught sight of a vision of a transformed city which would become a global centre of light and truth, resulting in all nations settling their disputes and destroying their weapons. Of course, when the vision was over, nothing had actually changed in the empirical world of the prophet's time! The actual city in which he lived remained as corrupt and violent as before. And yet, there was a difference, a revolutionary change within the prophet's own imagination. The vision of God had convinced him, against all odds, that the present arrangements were not final, so that he summoned his followers: 'Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord' (Isaiah 2:5). That is to say, for Biblical faith, the promise of what will be determines and shapes the life and practice of the believing community in relation to the world as it now is. Such a vision is always precarious, and in no way should it lead us to underestimate or minimise the seriousness of the challenges we face, but faith can humbly confess the knowledge that our 'labour in the Lord is not in vain' (1 Cor. 15:58). (Smith 2010:47)
You know, that's a good prayer for today. If not a great one. To have a revolutionary change in our imaginations. To see as He would have us see. To be motivated by the right things.
Jesus Christ. Healer. Hope of the world.
Oh, today my beautiful friends Kayleigh and Becca took me for breakfast in the most stunningly quirky cafe ever… Amazing times with these amazing ladies!