the creation conflict: don miller talks community

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Thursday, September 24th, 2009

the creation conflict: don miller talks community

i posted this earlier on the eikon blog and i thought it was worth sharing here.

donald miller

several years ago, someone made a statement that i have repeated many times since and has shaped my view of god and others: isolation is the enemy of god.

there’s a lot going on in that statement and today, in a live-streamed talk by don miller, i was once again reminded of that declaration.

miller—author of the best-selling blue like jazz and the newly released a million miles in a thousand years—talked about story—in literary terms—and its connection to the biblical narrative, particularly in reference to the creation story. more to the point, he talked about the need for conflict in any good story and how conflict engages characters and creates a need/opportunity to change.

while it seems more and more clear to me that the creation account in scripture is a poem steeped in metaphor, it makes it no less significant to the trajectory of the biblical narrative—the ongoing story of god and people and all creation in relationship. one of the most beautiful aspects of creation is the relationship between human beings.

miller made the point that people generally see life prior to the fall as perfect, without conflict. in fact, though, like any good story, conflict was a quintessential element in the genesis poems that pushed change. we find in genesis 2 that the man experienced an internal conflict that enacted a plot twist.

God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.

the man had everything—food, water and god—but in spite of these things, something was missing: other people. the man’s internal conflict was loneliness. it was the deep-seated need to engage the other. it was the inexplicably strong necessity of companionship.

his conflict created the need for change.

so god created another human. who created other humans. and other humans.

as miller made clear, people need people. we need community. we need to be in relationship with other humans.

for quite some time, christians have propagated the idea that being in relationship with jesus is the key to unlocking unlimited and unadulterated happiness. it’s the idea that jesus is the ultimate fullness. while there are certainly bits of truth to that, our experiences inform us that it’s only partially true. following jesus doesn’t eliminate conflict. we still experience sadness & loneliness & fear & uncertainty. while faith provides a “cushion”, we still process these things in tangible ways: other people.

the “other” is our way of experiencing something that doesn’t replace our relationship with christ, but makes our relationship with christ touchable.

we hope that eikon, above all things, is rooted in community. we hope it’s a place that resolves conflict by placing people in relationship with other people.

we invite you into this place of community and the other.

1 Comment

  1. Morgon77 says:

    I think that what the popular idea of fulfillment in Jesus has at fault is that it is essentially dualistic.

    It is, in fact, a spirit vs. body argument…"when I am spiritually connected to jesus, I will be complete and need nothing else, and I will leave the fleshy, destructive things of this world behind."

    Ignoring, as people often do, that the second resurrection is physical, not spiritual (only).

    We were created by God to be human. The 2nd resurrection will not only restore what was created, but crank it up to 11, as it were.

    But we are still, if fallen, what we were created to be. And we were created to need relationship, to need other people, to be creative, and compassionate, and inquisitive, and involved.

    Passionate.

    A Christianity which denies those things as present and in need of pursuit denies the creation of God.

    I suppose that's my addition to the Eikon discussion the other night about what Christians are like…they may be fanatical, but they're generally passionless. It's hard to get passionate about intellectual assent, after all.

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