Of that for which there is no formula…

I have become increasingly aware over the last few months (maybe even years) of something by which I seek to frame my life around… That being the the absence of formulas for the most important things in life. I’ll explain…

Perhaps it is something intrinsic to modernism / post-enlightenment thinking… perhaps the very nature of who we are as human beings. We seek to frame everything in our lives by means of some sort of formula… something to help us wrap our minds around life… a way of having answers. Agreed, we have formulas to help us grasp things like math and science, language and linguistics… and these help. They work. But what about for things like relationships, community, emotions, hopes and fears… God?

For such things as dynamic as these, there is no formula. None. To take these dynamic elements of life and reality and limit them to a formula is to eventually break down, digress, and divide. People ask, how do we do church? What is the right way? What is the essential truth about sexuality? Divorce? Wealth? Our relationship to the Environment? What is the answer? What does the Bible say about that?

I think perhaps that my ever growing perspective is that there is no simple answer whatsoever. Our Sunday night gathering read through Matthew 19 last night. Here Jesus is asked about divorce, children, and following the law to get eternal life. Each question or challenge wants to bring him back to a formula or an easy answer (I won’t say “black and white”), to which he refuses to go. His responses are consistently focused on something else. The values underneath and over-and-above the question… who God is, who we are to BE, how we relate with God or God with us. He focuses on the value. And it seems to me that he does this consistently. This changes the way that I look at the Bible… the way that I look at life.

I am challenged to live this way. It seems too often our conversations are about trying to find that final formula that will “work” for us. I am challenged not to fall into this trap… to finally start living a life where I look for the values, the way of BEing, that goes way beyond the formula. Call me postmodern… or emergent… I guess more than anything, I want to really see life through the Spirit.

One thought on “Of that for which there is no formula…

  1. This is interesting musing. I am reminded of the YL story about ministries using “Non-negotiable” statements in writing (see Tony Jones blog).

    You are right Nate. Belief, creed, and even practice always changes over time. It is tough to speak honestly and openly these days, but church culture change is constant, so we had better learn to humbly address it and grow close to Jesus in it.


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