Being a Christian is not, as some mistakenly assume, to slavishly follow mere regulations and rules! Following Jesus is gloriously multi-faceted, so that to live under his rule means to develop, cultivate the habit of being attentive to the demand that Christ himself makes upon us in everyday encounters. This way, all experience is thus ruled or measured by the discernment of this demand.
To measure other people and things properly, writes Baptist theologian Paul Fiddes quoting Hans Urs Von Balthasar, is to notice how they are grounded in the mysterious and beautiful depths of Being itself, as parts in a whole, and it is only possible to measure this beauty because we are first measured by Christ. Christ Jesus himself is the true measure or ‘rule’ of all things; he cannot be measured by an alien standard from outside, but only by himself. His existence and mission were perfectly in tune with each other, and by giving him the attention due to his measure, we too can be in harmony with his mission.
There is something truly wonderful about the fact that we are asked, called, encouraged to pay attention to Christ in the world. He’s not a shop floor manager dispensing orders and demanding results, no matter how nice some shop floor managers ask; neither is he an in-your-face God that requires no special attentiveness. Rather, God, Yahweh, the One seen perfectly in the face of Jesus Christ, is….hidden. But. And as is typical with theology, this is a big but! A God who is hidden is not absent, but present.
When I hide from my children, I am not absent from them, I am hidden but present, waiting to be found by them, delighting in their joy in the search, willing them to press on, celebrating their final discovery of me. I was present all along, bursting to show myself, delighting in the increasing joy of the search, me knowing I was near, them knowing I was not far! It is just as Karl Barth says, the God who reveals himself veils himself at the same time.
C.S. Lewis was right: The world is crowded with Him. Rules and regulations won’t find Daddy, but attentiveness to His nearness and presence will produce more joy and fruit than we can even dare imagine. Gralefrit dares you: IMAGINE.