I’ve been reading Colossians Remixed recently and I find I’m having to stop every page or two to make my own notes. This book has such profound things to say to our culture. Basically, this book looks at what Paul might say to our western culture if he were writing his letter to the Colossians today. One of the issues this great book discusses is how we are so captive to the consumerist culture we live in. Consider this quote, taken from Walter Brueggemann’s Interpretation and Obedience:
“The key pathology of our time…is the reduction of our imagination so that we are too numbed, satiated, and co-opted to do serious imaginative work.”
The authors of Colossians Remixed call this ‘disempowering us from dreaming that things might be otherwise’. Do you ever feel like you’re so busy that you don’t know what to do with all the choices you have? It’s sometimes called ‘choice anxiety’. Or as U2 put it some years ago, freedom looks like too many choices.
Our culture keeps us so busy, so wired, that we never stop to question our lives. As my Dad has said numerous times, “we’re living all wrong”, but we’re either too wound up in getting through each day to realise it, or it occasionally flickers like a dim light in the distance but then disappears again like a ship in the night. The fact is that we have fallen hook, line and sinker for the lie that more ‘stuff’ and being busier is what life is all about. And then we wake up one morning when we’re 65 and wonder where our life went.
I’ve said it before, but I find Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:26 to be some of the most timeless ever said – “what will it profit you if you gain the whole world but lose your very self in the process?” (my paraphrase). Deep down most of us know there’s something wrong with the way we live, we know we’re not really happy with our lives, but we feel powerless to stop it or we are paralysed by indifference to it. As Brueggemann says, we are numbed, or satiated to the effect that we are sleep walking our way through life.
A life focused on self and being ‘comfortable in captivity’ (another quote from Colossians Remixed) is an anti-life. Unfortunately much of the middle-class church is just as captive to this cultural numbness as the rest of society. Keith Green, referring to the church in this way, said it was asleep in the light.
Some years ago, Tim Costello wondered if God was actively working against the church. I have wondered sometimes if Tim is right. Like a frog in boiling water, we don’t even know we’re dying.
Fortunately there is a better way, the way of the Jesus, the road less travelled, a life less ordinary, to use a few clichés. But a cliché is a cliché because it is true. Jesus offers, and actually comes through, on a peace that passes all understanding, a joy that transcends our circumstances, and a freedom to be the people we really want to be – giving to others without counting the cost and loving extravagantly because we are loved beyond measure.