Tuesday, May 18, 2010

R12: Where's your focus

(no blog-carnival for me this week, but I encourage you to check out this week's numerous entries on Grace)

Tonight is the penultimate episode of Lost. I’ve been hooked from day one and I cannot wait to see how it all comes together. I’m not hung up on the theories, though I did go through that phase. I am more interested in the human drama that is playing out, relying on eternal themes of community and redemption.

Since the second season or so, I’ve been following Entertainment Weekly’s Doc Jensen as he speculates on theories, provides background on philosophies and literature name-dropped on the show, and recaps the latest episodes. Over the weekend he posted his thoughts on community with respect to the “live together, die alone” mantra of Lost. Doc postulates that the assumed puppeteer of the show, Jacob, has been trying for who knows how many centuries to figure out how to break the cycle of “they come, they destroy, they kill”. Doc figures that previous attempts to raise up a “candidate” failed because Jacob was working out the means by trial and error, and it wasn’t until after the Others when Oceanic 815 crashed, that he concluded redemption could only be found through sacrifice (Doc argues Jacob deliberately allowed himself to be killed) and community.

I could not shake this idea as I read the most recent chapter of R12: The Book. We’ve been talking about “authentic community” defined as “when the real you, meets real needs, for the right reason, the right way.” This fourth relationship of Romans 12, Serving in Love, concludes with defining the right way.

I think what makes Lost so compelling is how it touches on themes that speak to our very souls. It is not explicitly Christian and I think it intentionally weaves Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, animism, and numerous philosophies because each are rooted in our innate desire for spiritual purpose. So you could think of Lost as a six season-long, Matrix-meets-Gulliver’s Travels-meets-Gilligan’s Island. Lost resonates with our soul’s desire to belong and have purpose.

Authentic Christian community satisfies this desire, but it needs to happen the right way. Romans 12:12-13 reads, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Paul’s literary style in Romans 12 changes from a narrative to bullet-points beginning in verse 9, which is where we begin our study on authentic community. Each bullet then carries its own weight. Be joyful in hope. Happiness is dependent on what is happening but joy is rooted in the eternal hope we have in Jesus. Be patient in affliction. Persevere through the tough times because you have this hope. Be faithful in prayer. Joy, hope, patience, perseverance can only come if we are turning our hearts to God in prayer. This is an upward focus, taking focus off of ourselves. Our selfishness wants to be happy in the moment, complain when times are tough, and rely on our own strength to push through. The first five seasons of Lost have shown us the futility in that thinking. Share with God’s people who are in need. Give sacrificially. Love unconditionally. Practice hospitality. Literally translated, this means to pursue strangers. Don’t just love those who love back, “even the pagans do that” (Matthew 5:47) extend your service to all in need. This is an outward focus. Again, the focus has to remain off of us.

Community. Sacrifice. Eternal themes. Spiritual needs. As Christians, we can choose to “live together, or die alone.” I pray that through authentic community, we won’t be Lost.

Today continues our "virtual small group" covering the book Living On The Edge. For how this group is going to work, read this entry. For an introduction with disclaimers, click here. For some numbers from Barna to motivate you to continue reading, go here. For the R12 videos, click the R12 button on the sidebar to the right. Finally, as we move forward through the book you can always catch up by clicking the R12 label at the end of each post.

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