Thursday, March 19, 2009

Infinity: God’s Radical Freedom

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by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Infinity – n. Unbounded space, time, or quantity.
[immutability. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/infinity (accessed: March 02, 2009).]

Being a Fully Devoted Follower of a Radically Free God

In his book, Living Jesus, Luke Timothy Johnson discusses a proposition of great consequence: Jesus is alive rather than dead and this determines what it means to follow him.
Being the disciple of a dead person is fairly straight forward: you read their ideas and their history and you model your life after theirs. It may take a while and it will require work, but the goal is static and the expectations are stable.

Being the disciple of a living person is radically different, for just when you think you understand him, he moves: he is not where you thought he was or he wants you to do something that is outside your box.

Being a fully devoted follower of Christ is being the follower of a living person. Because of this, we must not and cannot stop at mere conformity to our current understanding of Jesus, for as a living person, he keeps moving.

As a living person, Jesus is dynamic; as a divine person, he is radically so. As we saw in the article on Aseity, God is self-existent. Unlike every other being, he is radically free: he has the ability to do whatever he wills. The only restraints upon God are self-imposed; nothing else and no one else can apply any restraint.

These past weeks, Pastor Charlie has been teaching from the account of Jesus walking on the water. There is no way in all of the disciples' knowledge and experience that they would have ever thought he would come walking the water. Yet, when he revealed himself, Peter's response shows that even with his tiny trust, he understood that Jesus is radically free: if Jesus decides that Peter should walk on the water, then Peter could walk on the water. And he did.

Just when you think you know where he is and what he is going to do, he moves. This is why following Jesus requires more than careful bible study and regular church attendance. It also requires walking with your brothers and sisters, hearing their perspective. It requires reading Christian writings from other eras and traditions, hearing what they have to say, evaluating it by the gospel, and accepting what passes muster--even if it clashes with what you believe. It requires silencing your heart long enough to hear what the Spirit is saying now.

Because Jesus is a living person, our individual understanding of him is necessarily partial. Our understanding becomes increasingly complete in a community where each and all are in hard pursuit of the God who is radically free and who leads us in ways we never thought possible or even likely.