Saturday, March 01, 2008

three options

I'm reading this book, THE JOURNEY OF DESIRE: SEARCHING FOR THE LIFE WE'VE ONLY DREAMED OF, by John Eldredge.  As the title would give away, he likens the Christian life to a journey of desire.  I just read this passage in chapter eleven that I think is really thought provoking.  Here it is:

"The fact is, at this point in our journey, we have only three options:  (1) to be alive and thirsty, (2) to be dead, or (3) to be addicted.  There are no other choices.  Most of the world lives in addiction; most of the church has chosen deadness.  The Christian is called to the life of holy longing." (page 182 from "Letting Go")
Several questions:
1.  Do you agree with the bold "there are no other choices" statement?
2.  Do you believe that, "most of the world lives in addiction" as Eldredge asserts?
3.  Do you think "most of the church has chosen deadness" is true?
Go ahead and read the passage again.  It's loaded.
I personally lived much of my life in addiction.  I understand where the author is coming from.  I want to point out that we cannot limit the word addiction to just chemical addictions.  If you use a broad definition then I think it is probably true. For example, perfectionism, control, anger, television, or work could be addictions. Don't you think?
Honestly, there are still things I must battle so that they do not become an addiction. I don't know, ChapStick, coffee, concerts, or sex, all of these things have the potential to overtake my holy longing at any moment, but are they addictions? Right now, I believe that I am living in balance and that even my most latent addictions are in check.
Sadly, I know where Eldredge is coming from when he says the church has chosen deadness. God did not call us to a life of safety; he certainly didn't call us to a life of passionless duty.  He called us to a full life of adventure and joy. Christ said he came to give us an abundant life which brings us to choice number one: alive and thirsty.
I think of Paul writing in Ephesians 3:19, "Then you will be filled with the fullness of life" or Jesus in John 10:10 saying, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." Think of that.  My savior didn't say his purpose was to cramp my style, keep me safe, or even get me into Heaven. "My purpose is to give life." He's talking about the here and now and he wants me to be fully alive. I love the translation of the famous John 3:16 from THE MESSAGE because it reads "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." You see, it's not just about "eternal life" because what good is the promise of eternity if, in this life, you are addicted or merely technically alive, but dead to desires?
So what about me? Alive? Check. Thirsty? Check. Thirsty for the way things are supposed to be.  Thirsty for wholeness.
I believe that's me right now.  I'm alive and thirsty. I feel really alive and I'm thirsty for the abundant life that Jesus promised.
How about you?

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4 Comments:

Blogger Sharon G said...

I am still digesting...I will be back soon.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Jon Hall said...

Having not read this book, it's hard for me to say. On the surface, I'd have to agree with all three statements.

Are there no other choices? Seems to depend on perspective. I'm guessing it wouldn't be hard to define the journey in more broad terms than just those 3 things. But boiling them down to those three seems effective in making the point.

I do believe that most of the world lives in addiction (an interesting choice of word on his part, I must say). When looking up addiction in the dictionary, it actually has two definitions, one negative and one positive ("Enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity"). It would seem the way to look at this, would be those things in life that we regularly engage in, that have the potential to separate us from God (which is a definition of sin).

I see so many people that live lives with what appears to be benign addictions. The danger seems to be when those addictions keep them from God. Too much work can do this. Too many kid activities. TV. The NFL. Balance certainly comes into play, though I think Covey's "Big Rocks illustration, or "getting first-things-first" assertion applies here in a big way. It's about more than just balance. It's about getting the big rocks—the priorities—in the life jar first.

And as for the church being "dead." Oh man. Hot button here. I'd have to say, with the limited exposure I've had to a many churches, that yes, I feel there's a "deadness" to western church as a whole. The real sobering thing though is that culture already knows this. Most of the church though, does not.

That is NOT to say that church is bad, or wrong. It's to say that, in my observation and reading, church has followed a path that now misses the mark. It fails to engage culture where and how it needs to be engaged. This is *not* about becoming more relevant. It's way bigger than that.

Great prompting of conversation Doah. I hope more folks chime in.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

so lets see... what else could there be? If you can be dead, you can be alive, If you can be thirsty, you can be full or not thirsty at all, If you can be addicted, you can be dehydrated or not partaking... I think it is too narrow a view. God after all is not so simple and he is walking through this life with us right? Sometimes we pick up a glass of water, sometimes someone puts the glass to our mouths, sometimes.... we get a waterballoon in the face..... deep thoughts, by MG

11:05 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

so lets see... what else could there be? If you can be dead, you can be alive, If you can be thirsty, you can be full or not thirsty at all, If you can be addicted, you can be dehydrated or not partaking... I think it is too narrow a view. God after all is not so simple and he is walking through this life with us right? Sometimes we pick up a glass of water, sometimes someone puts the glass to our mouths, sometimes.... we get a waterballoon in the face..... deep thoughts, by MG

11:05 PM  

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