Monday, February 20, 2006

Transformation: Believing in Alternate Realities

“Transformation is the slow, steady process of inviting each other into a counterstory about God, world, neighbor, and self.” – Walter Brueggemann

Jesus speaks so convincingly of a world where…
· there is no need to worry, because God provides all our needs.
· turning the other cheek actually serves to advance the kingdom of God, rather than simply resulting in a second bruised cheek.
· forgiving leads to restored health and relationships, not just the nagging sense that we are going to be seriously hurt, again.
· we are given everything we need simply by asking, seeking and knocking, as opposed to struggling, clutching and fighting for everything.
· we can build our lives on a foundation that will actually withstand the storms of life, instead of crumbling at our feet in the middle of the storm.

This world is convincing in the mouth of Jesus, so Christians gather and read his words of vision and possibility. We long for that world. Then we exit and before we are out of the parking lot reality sets in, we do not live in THAT world.

Christians live in the tension between the world that is and the world that can be. With our hearts we long for the promised land of Jesus, but in our minds we know that we must “face up to reality.” And yet, in our hearts and minds, we catch glimpses that the “world of reality” is also a world created by a vision, just an evil vision. In those moments we are free to imagine a better world – a world created with the righteous vision of Jesus. This world is an alternate reality that is ours for the taking – by faith. If we just live like it is real, then of course, it will be a “new reality.” Jesus called it a “new birth.” Paul called it the “new person,” because the old one has been crucified. We are calling it “transformation” – the embracing of a better story.

The problem, of course, is that you cannot live in both worlds. You cannot walk by both faith and sight. You have to make a choice. Disciples do not practice the teachings of Jesus “because they work” but because in the world of discipleship they are the only way to live. The more we embrace the vision of Jesus of the alternate reality, the more substance it has in our lives. Eventually it will even break through to the “real” world. When transformation is pervasive we will experience the “renewal of all things.” Until then we live in an alternate reality – in the world, but not of the world!

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