This is so well said, and so how I feel, I say ditto...
Speaking of which, I wonder if a foundational issue in christianity isn't self-awareness, self-consciousness. I'll try to explain, though at the moment it feels like "looking through a glass darkly."
I was thinking this morning how I've become increasingly aware that these blogs are being read by a wide diversity of people, and how that awareness is inescapable as we relate to one another. So, now the temptation is to shape my words according to my audience. The temptation is to try to "grow" or "manage" my readers.
As I look inside, I can find good reasons and lousy reasons.
"It would be good if more people read NextReformation, because, as so many of you have kindly written, "You are making an important contribution."
"If more people visited my site, I myself would be better known. I would feel better about myself because I am having an impact. I myself would be "important."
The lie is that my value changes because of what others think of me. The truth is that if we truly seek the kingdom then what we do does have an impact. And the deeper truth is that what I do and who I am are inseparable.
And isn't it good and right that we care what our friends think of us?
Hmmm.. Maybe that is the sticking point. It is good and right to be in community.. to be known and loved.. and also to be challenged and accountable. But we should be accountable to the correct community.. that group of people "in whose hearts are the road to Zion." We should be accountable to those whose hearts are stamped with the image of the king. Being accountable to those whose direction in life is not toward loving God and loving their neighbors is risky. As the old Puritans used to say, "Sickness is easier caught than health," therefore be careful whom you let shape your life.
Be careful... have a care... all of which requires self-awareness. But that same self-awareness roots all this introversion that I wish I could escape.
So.. caring what people think is good.. and caring what people think is bad. I want to be so "god aware" that my self-awareness is a subset of my kingdom awareness. I want to care first what He thinks, and only secondarily what others think. Yet I also want to be accountable.. and to some extent to all my friends, not only the ones with whom I have bountiful agreement.
I wonder if all this complicated self-consciousness is a subset of the forward sweep of history. There are basically two views of time.. a circular one and a linear one. The linear view is rooted in the historical actions of God in Christ, moving toward an ultimate end. The circular view is rooted in the belief that all that was, will be.. that time is circular and meaning is unattainable, that there is only repetition, the great wheel of life.
Christians believe time will have an end.. and that history has a goal in God. Therefore we are conscious of our place on the line and the movement of things.. the flow of the river is directed by a sovereign and loving will. Therefore we try to line up with that flow and join in it, therefore we plan.. and analyse.. and are critical and self-critical.
But as someone pointed out in a blog somewhere recently, all this complexity is tiring.
from Len. (P.S. Len, in linking to you, I in no way intend for you to feel more important...)