Friday, October 27, 2006

three thought

Rob Bell calls it "systemic sin".

When God's people were led by Moses out of Egypt, they not only escaped individual bondage, but systemic bondage. The Jews were enslaved as a people by the entire Egyptian justice system. Today, when we are led by Christ out of our own spiritual Egypt, we are intended to not only to be saved from our individual bondage to sin, but also from the systemic sin. God not only desires to save our souls, but also to redeem our human systems; the way we interact with one another.

Interesting thought. Rob Bell.

N.T. Wright talks about our idea of "justice". Here are some quotes from the first chapter of his book Simply Christian:

"...But the voice goes on, calling us, beckoning us, luring us to think that there might be such a thing as justice, as the world being put to rights, even though we find it so elusive. We are like moths trying to fly to the moon. We all know there's something called justice, but we can't quite get to it."

"The rich use the power of their money to get even richer while the poor, who can't do anything about it, get even poorer. Most of us scratch our heads and wonder why, and then go out and buy another product whose profit goes to the rich company."

"Isn't it odd that it should be like that? Isn't it strange that we should all want things to be put to rights but can't seem to do it? And isn't the oddest thing of all the fact that I, myself, know what I ought to do but often don't do it?"

Finally, Thomas Merton chimes in on the same subject. In his book The Seven Storey Mountain, he recalls the feeling of doom that accompanied the first hints of World War II in the fall of 1939. He writes:

"All this was obscure to most people, and made itself felt only in a mixture of disgust and hopelessness and dread. They did not realize that the world had now become a picture of what the majority of its individuals had made of their own souls. We had given our minds and wills up to be raped and defiled by sin, by hell itself: and now, for our inexorable instruction and reward, the whole thing was to take place all over again before our eyes, physically and morally, in the social order, so that some of us at least might have some conception of what we had done."

That second sentence, "...the world had now become a picture of what the majority of its individuals had made of their own souls", is at the heart of what Merton was trying to say. That we are all connected.

So what is the point of all of this, why am I sharing it with you. Frankly, I'm not sure. All three of these ideas I either read or heard preached within a 36 hour window this week. All three resound in me as being good and right.

In a world that is so individualistic, so compartmentalized, a world where we regularly use phrases like, "That works for you, and this works for me" or "You do your thing, I'll do mine", a world in which people think they can do whatever they want without hurting anyone else; messages of common bonds and interconnectedness are both a challenge and a blessing.

Bell, Wright and Merton...much like the Three Musketeers are standing together, swords in air, shouting in unison, "All for one and one for all!"

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