Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bookends - Twitter and 'The Call' by Os Guiness

Today at lunch I finished Os Guiness' book The Call. I had started reading it a number of months ago, and hadn't picked it up in several weeks. The timing was interesting, because this week I have become interested in emerging social media, web 2.0, twitter, and the like. And Os' writing in The Call is deeply influenced by many historical figures and writings. So today has felt like bookends as I look into the future and into the past simultaneously. The Call was good for me to read, informative and encouraging, if a little difficult to follow at times. The last chapter and the end of the book are almost poetic. And throughout the book the theology is dead on. It has reinforced my belief in the element of tension - the following excerpt is a good example:
People make two equal but opposite errors about life as a journey and faith as the Way. On one side, usually at the less educated level, are those who prematurely speak as if they have arrived. Such people properly emphasize the certainties and triumphs of faith but minimize the uncertainties, tragedies, and incompletenesses. Having come to faith, they speak and live as if they have nothing more to learn. All truths are clear-cut, all mysteries solved, all hopes materialized, all conclusions foregone - and all sense of journeying is reduced to the vanishing point. There are seemingly no risks, trials, dangers, setbacks, or disasters on the horizon. Or so they seem to talk.

On the other side, usually at the more educated level, are those who are so conscious of the journey that journey without end becomes there passion and their way of life. To such people it is unthinkable ever to arrive, and the ultimate gaffe is the claim of finding a way or reaching a conclusion. Like the perennial seekers we met earlier, for them the journey itself is all. Questions, inquiry, searching, and conquering become an end in themselves. Ambiguity is everything.

Yet the Christian faith has an extraordinary balance between these extremes. As those responding to God's call, we are followers of Christ and followers of the Way. So we are on a journey and we are truly travelers, with all the attendant costs, risks, and dangers of the journey. Never in this life can we say we have arrived. But we know why we have lost our original home and, more importantly, we know the home to which we are going.
Perhaps more important to me were the following lines on identity:
God calls and, just as we hear him but don't see him on this earth, so we grow to become what he calls, even though we don't see until heaven what he is calling us to become.

No one has captured this more profoundly than George MacDonald in his sermon "The New Name" from Unspoken Sermons. In his message in Revelation to the Church in Pergamum, Jesus promised " a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." MacDonald pointed out in good biblical fashion that "the true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man's own symbol - his soul's picture, in a word - the sign which belongs to him and no one else. Who can give a man this, his own nature? God alone. For no one but God sees what a man is."
Anyway, to summarize, there are definitely gold nuggets in this book, but it's difficult to state in one sentence what they are. More than anything, I was encouraged by this book. I was encouraged about my future, my life's journey, and the call placed upon my life. And I needed that.

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