Monday, August 1, 2011

Thin People

This is not a post about what you think it might be...

Over the past two months I've been meeting with a small group of people affiliated with the MacLaurin Institute at the University of Minnesota, to discuss N.T. Wright's book "Surprised by Hope - Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the mission of the Church." Let me say, if you're not interested in being challenged in at least one or two thoughts you may or may not have about being a Christ Follower, don't read this book. It wrecked me! Every week as we talked about Wright's thoughts and words to describe the profound reality we are asked to live in as Christians, I wanted to jump out of my seat and live into the beautiful mess that is life here on Earth.

Though I could probably go on and on about some of the ideas that Wright eloquently discussed, once sentence nearing the end of the book renewed my faith and hope in what I believe the Church (a community of committed Christ followers) both individually and collectively is capable of accomplishing in this "Kingdom here, but not yet," lived reality.

"The renewal and reclaiming of space has recently involved, among other things, a fresh grasp of the Celtic tradition of "thin places," places where the curtain between heaven and earth seems almost transparent."

Wright goes onto speak of church buildings, not as places to escape the world, but as "bridgeheads" into the world. All of which you couldn't convince me otherwise. However, the idea of "thin places," got me thinking. If the church, as a physical space is called to be a "place where the curtain between heaven and earth seems almost transparent," shouldn't those inside the church, those who profess with such zeal (or in some cases not nearly enough zeal), be "thin people?" People, who reflect the goodness of God in the light of the resurrection of Christ! Those engaging in justice (locally and internationally), those who seek beauty in the mess of it all, those who live out of such a place of hope that people can't help but be drawn nearer to the king of a kingdom that is here but not quite yet?

Perhaps this is in part how churches become "thin places." When a place, just as a container, is filled with what ever it maybe filled with, it takes on the identity of what it contains. If we truly desire to see churches and other places where groups of Christians gather, become "thin places" it must be filled with those committed to figuring out how to be thin people. This of course, is where life and being the church gets a bit difficult. If you've ever had to lose a significant amount of weight, the time and discipline that it takes to physically become healthy again can be really really hard. In the same way, becoming thin people in regards to Christ's kingdom, is not an easy endeavor. Churches don't instantly become thin places, because the people that fill them aren't all that thin. Thank God, we don't have to be thin in order to come through the doors, but shouldn't we be better about figuring out how to be thin, individually and collectively? Now, I don't think that's going to look the same for everyone and every church, but wow... to become thin people and create thin places "where the curtain between heaven and earth seems almost transparent." ...that gives me hope, that gives me direction.

1 comment:

Lucia Angel said...

I want to be a "thin person" :D i love your post...can't wait to read the book :D