Monday, November 19, 2007


“Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corintians 13:12 – NLT

On my Driver’s License is a notation, “RSTR: CORR LENS.” It means, of course that the lenses built into my eyes are not capable of bringing sufficient clarity and acuity for me to operate a motor vehicle safely, in the opinion of the State of California. Indeed, the State has mandated that I augment my fallible vision with some sort of visual enhancement device… I choose to wear glasses, making a spectacle of myself as it were (sorry, sometimes I just can’t resist! ;-)

I wonder if in our endeavor to “see each other as Jesus sees us,” if our “spiritual operator’s license” ought not to have a similar notation… I question the acuity of the “eyes of my heart,” my ‘spiritual eyes’ in so far as the ability to truly SEE others.

Good lenses, those perfectly made, are without flaw, without contamination or aberration; they bend the light passing through them with precision, ultimately achieving a perfect focus… Sorry… my lenses just don’t seem to be able to do that! I "see through a glass darkly."

The flaws and aberrations in MY lenses seem somehow to obscure that perfect “Jesus-vision” of others that I seek… I mean I go out well intended, on my spirit-led journey, seeking encounters with my fellows that I might bless [recognize the God in] them, but I can’t see it: the crud (hmmmm… plank?) in my own eye distorts what I see. Sometimes, I unwittingly add filters to my already blurred attempt… the “historical” filter (using all the stuff that happened before… good and bad), the “expectation” filter (this is how this person is supposed to be, supposed to behave), the “selfish” filter (this is what I need from this encounter, or this is how I would act in this circumstance… that’s the RIGHT way)… all these filters to color my vision… perhaps because I’m unwilling to accept a clear, clean… perfect image.

This quest of blessing others, of seeing them as Jesus sees them, and then treating them accordingly is not an easy one. My sense is that I don’t need a “spiritual optometrist…” I don’t need correction – I need perfection in my vision. Prayer would seem the optimal solution.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Conception of Refuge

From the Concise Oxford Dictionary (What else??!?)
10th Edition, Online:

• n. (pl. sanctuaries)
1 a place of refuge or safety. > immunity from arrest.
2 a nature reserve. > a place where injured or unwanted animals are cared for.
3 a holy place. > the innermost recess or holiest part of a temple. > the part of the chancel of a church containing the high altar.
– ORIGIN ME (orig. ‘a sacred place where a fugitive was immune from arrest’): from OFr. sanctuaire, from L. sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy’.

Last week, a small group of us were spending some time in the early morning, praying for our church. We’ve established a focus to “impact… families with the transforming love of Jesus Christ,” and were seeking God’s will and mind in what that means, and perhaps how we are to go about same. It was a truly sweet time, and God led us individually and collectively to realize that a big part of this task has to do with extending ourselves outside of our campus, reaching into the neighborhoods surrounding… showing and sharing His love of people. This was heartening, as He was not talking about programs, schedules, or plans, but about attitudes, hearts, and sharing.

So in the middle of all this, I asked, “God, if we’re supposed to be extending beyond our campus, beyond our property, beyond our grounds, then what’s the purpose of gathering here in your sanctuary? What are we supposed to do here, in church?”

Have you ever been praying and had God chuckle in response? No, really, God chuckled and said, “Kit… my sanctuary is not a building, it’s in my people.”

Oohhh! God, I see! (Albeit through a glass darkly!) You say in your word that our bodies (and our hearts) are your temple… and the sanctuary is the holiest part of the temple; we carry your sanctuary with us! So then, I thought, sanctuary is really a state of being, a state of mind… “Yes,” said God, “that is why the Christian martyrs in the Roman coliseum, were able to sing, while being torn apart by lions.” They were in sanctuary… the holiest part of the temple; a place of refuge and safety. And sanctuary is in the mind of the occupant… the one who is safe… the one who is protected; he or she can be in sanctuary regardless of the environment or the surrounding circumstances… safe in the Father’s arms.

In musing further, I put this in the context of my last post. What about that place of ‘unconditional acceptance,’ of ‘unconditional love,’ and universal positive accord… not a place where people ignore our faults, but where people appreciate our strengths (which are used to build one-another), and where people stand by one another as they grow through their faults and weaknesses, depending entirely on the strength of the Lord… is that not sanctuary?

As he quotes someone much wiser, I'm increasingly convinced: Dallas Willard is right… “The Kingdom of Heaven IS at hand.”

"When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny." -Psalm 73:16-17

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Magic Mirror

“Romper, Bomper, Stomper, Boo.
Tell me, tell me, tell me, Do…
Are my friends havng fun today?”

Miss Rosemary would sit on her Romper Room couch in her Romper Room classroom in the TV in our living room, and recite this incantation as she gazed through the screen (and through an empty, circular frame), at her “magic mirror” that enabled her to see many of her small fans at home as they sat, raptly watching her.

“I see Billy, and Susie, and, oh! There’s Fred… I hope you’re feeling better Fred! And there’s Ann and Taylor, and…” Miss Rosemary would run down the roster of urchins in attendance (some of whose parents must have dropped her a line regarding the status of their offspring so that she could be more specific.)

I confess that I wasn’t much of a Romper Room fan, and I didn’t pay much attention to Miss Rosemary. Possibly because she NEVER saw me… but the idea of a magical device that would allow one to see others across vast broadcast distances did hold some appeal. It seemed too, that Miss Rosemary’s mirror not only enabled her to bridge distances, but it somehow filtered what she saw… there was never a “Uh Oh! I see little Dennis sneaking into the cookie jar!” or “Woops! Kit is NOT doing his homework!” (I told you she never saw ME!). Miss Rosemary, employing her mirror only seemed to see the positive and the good in her young audience. There’s something to be said for that.

I’m not talking about some syrupy, sugar-coated distortion of reality, where all is goodness and light, but an honest, and real assessment of who it is that God created when we look at the people around us.

Our high-school small group has embarked on an adventure (or at least an experiment) recently, in which we’re attempting to look at those around us as Jesus would see them, and then to treat them accordingly. This by no means requires seeing only the good, or overlooking faults or errors, but rather, “considering the source” of all these… a source that is the Creator of everything in the universe… a source that is ultimately and infinitely good… and loving. Imagine, just for a minute what it would be like to be in a room full of people with Jesus’ perspective on one another… recognizing that each person is in fact, one of the best creatures that God ever created, and holding each in a regard that is founded in complete and unconditional love and acceptance…

What would that feel like, how would it be to know that even if we messed up, that there would be loving correction and forgiveness? That we are accepted, and valued not for who we think we should be, not for “measuring up,” but for simply being what we were created to be. And imagine the incentive to discover the extent of that creation… to actually strive to live out the life set before us… completely free in that love.

Not possible? Well, in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 4, Verse 17, Jesus tells us to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Dallas Willard teaches that we have a lot to do with where we stand in relation to the Kingdom. Our attitudes and consequent behaviors determine how close we stand to or within that Kingdom… so perhaps our adventure will offer at least a taste, if not a sojourn.

It isn’t easy though… the temptation is to forgive too quickly (which isn’t really very loving), or to fall into the trap of “societal norms” which condone sarcasm, and put downs, and ‘one-upsmanship’ humor. Fundamentally, seeing and appreciating each other AS WE WERE CREATED, is pretty tough stuff… but then, I guess God made pretty tough folks… stay tuned.