Saturday, November 24, 2007

Not "Just"

In the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, the toy store manager accuses the accountant of being a "Just kind of person." She meant that the accountant only saw what he expected -- that he say just what was there. In his eyes, it was "just" a toy store, "just" toys, "just" a store owner. He missed the magic because he only saw the "just."

In the post that I quoted yesterday, by Sam Norton, he also says this:

That we are called to imagine the world differently to how it is. We have to have our imaginations formed by the Kingdom in order that the Kingdom may come....Old Testament prophets first of all imagined and taught to the community that the world didn't have to be the way it was, so Moses as the great pioneer of this - his first and most difficult and most important task was to go to the Hebrew slaves and say, "God doesn't want you to be slaves any more. You don't have to be slaves." And this was unthinkable, they were born as slaves, they grew up as slaves, their parents and grandparents had died as slaves, that was the way of the world and the one who had the prophetic ministry went to them and said, "It doesn't have to be like this."
I like that, and I had never thought of it that way. The first step for the Israelites to be released from slavery wasn't that they leave their homes, pack up their camels and step into the desert. It was to imagine that they could live a life in which they were not "just" slaves.

We are made in the image of God. Our God is the God who created the universe by speaking it into existence, but what a wonderful imagination he must have -- to have imagined it all first. We have that gift. A potter can look at a lump of clay and imagine the finished product. As parents, we look at our children and can imagine what they will be as adults (most days, anyway). A cook can look at flour, sugar and eggs and imagine what the cake will taste like. The gift of imagination is a wonderful tool that we too often fail to use.

Do we ever look at our churches and imagine what they could become if we allowed God to enter into the discussion? So many people want us to be the church that we were fifty years ago. Do we ever imagine that we can be more than "just" the church that we were? Do we ever imagine what wonderful plans God has in mind for us?

Do you ever look at yourself and feel too small for the task that God has set before you? Do you ever say to yourself that you are "just" a church member, "just" an unequipped lay member? Do you ever look at a problem and think that it is too big for someone who is "just" one person to solve? I know I do.

And yet, God calls us beyond the "just" of who we think we are. God calls us to be who he imagines that we can become. God calls the church to be the church he imagines that it will be. God calls us to have enough faith to use the gift of imagination that he has given us. He calls us to believe that we are more than "just" who we think we are; he calls us to have the faith to believe that we are who he has created us to be.

Once we can do that, we will begin to see that this world is not what God plans for it to be. Once we can see with God's eyes, and believe in what he sees, then we will begin to understand that God is here, God is now, and all around us is the kingdom of God.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’
Matthew 17:19-20Images: The bird feeders are full again, and the birds arrived right away. In these images are a tufted titmouse and a woodpecker.

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