Untangling the Gospel 12: A Beautiful Sound

I’ve tried to use the posts in this series to journal the ideas that have come to create a huge shift in my perspective on Christian spirituality during the last few years. And, as things turn out, there has been quite a lot to say, because there have been quite a few changes.

In reality, a lot of what I have had to say before all of this, and much of what I will probably say in the future, will grow out of these same ideas. In that sense, I guess that the conversation that was started in these posts will not end for me (or for this blog) at any point in the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, to avoid running the series itself into the ground, here, in short, is a recap of the ideas that I’ve explored:
Like the apostle Paul after his vision of Jesus, I have been in a place of radical, but welcome reflection during the last few months.
– It is also true, however, that for a long time, I’ve had sneaking suspicions that a lot of the language of Christianity and church was off kilter
– These thoughts have been the product of our changing culture, which is now reaching the end of the modern age. These changes are welcome to me, becuase they bring with them the opportunity to untangle from the gospel many of the culturally-bound ideas that have limited its potency.
– The first step for me was understanding that I needed to embrace the mysteries of God and the way he works in the world, rather than seeking to be a person with all of the answers. The overly analytical approaches which say you must “understand” God correctly to please him have resulted in massive confusion in the Christian world. Letting go of the need to understand everything in order to “do Christianity” properly opens the door to a world where the mysteries of God can be appreciated and worshipped, along with the things that are more understandable.
– Scripture isn’t a book of law or history or science. It is The Story. And The Story invites us to join and participate as God redeems the world through Jesus.
– I am learning to avoid being reductionistic in the way I use terms like saved or church, in the way I think of practices such as baptism, and in the way I think about (or even speak about) evangelism. In other words, I don’t try to fully explain what these things mean in simple terms. I am open to God’s revelation as He continues to show me how broad, rich, and meaningful these experiences can be.
– And perhaps most importantly, belief/faith is not about intellectually assenting to the right ideas, it is about trusting that the way Jesus said to live is the best way to live, and then actually living that way.

The most liberating thing about the whole experience to me is that I no longer think solely in terms of right ideas and wrong ideas about God. Instead, I am free to appreciate that who he is and what he is doing is simply beautiful.

For that reason, the Newsboys’ Beautiful Sound has been running through my mind a lot lately. The “sound” in the lyrics of this song are metaphorical to me. They represent the way God is moving in the world – becoming visible in the way different people are singing their own “songs”. They are lyrics that welcome the chance to re-discover the nature of God – which has been right in front of us all along – as we begin to sail into uncharted, but inviting, waters.

Here are the words:

Turn the page.
Can’t turn the light out.
Every word, every line
Carries to my soul.
Dark letters on a page
Singing so loud.
Where did I go wrong
Not to hear you?

Eighteen years, I guess it was all right.
I let You do the thinking, I’d just bide my time.
Father to son
Sunday hand-me-down.
Where did I go wrong
Not to hear Your song?

It’s a beautiful sound
Moving through the crowd.
Voices lifted up
On high for You.
It’s a beautiful song.
We’ve only just begun to understand.
Rediscovering You.

To have found You, and still be looking for You,
It’s the soul’s paradox of love.
You fill my cup, I lift it up for more.
I won’t stop now that I’m free.
I’ll be chasing You
Like You chase me.

It’s a beautiful sound
Moving through the crowd.
Voices lifted up
On high for You.
It’s a beautiful song.
We’ve only just begun to understand.
Rediscovering You.

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