Sometimes it is impossible to explain how you feel. Not because there aren’t words, but because you simply can’t understand the mixture of emotions and experiences at the current cross roads in your life. It is a terribly beautiful fusion of peace and chaos, joy and sorrow, as well as understanding matched with utter confusion. It is as though all is right in the world, and on the other hand it feels as though there is not one thing I could consider constant. This is how I feel right now. It is not a bad thing, but at times it is uncomfortable and even taxing.
I love being among new friends, in a new culture, learning a new language. Everything about starting over and beginning the learning process excites me, how some things transcend culture and bring people together or everything you will learn from the distinct differences if you take the time to observe. Understanding cultural differences comes over time, but being able to see them through the lens of Christ takes even longer. Not to mention the time needed to challenge your own cultural norms and observe how Christ is demonstrated, or not demonstrated in the way we live. Perspective can be a painfully humbling thing. If we allow it, it can also be life changing. Yet for so many of us it is easy to become so comfortable with our understanding of knowledge that our perception of reality does very little in regards to our convictions. I don’t know what is worse, not having access to truth, or choosing to ignore truth because if we recognized it life would be more difficult.
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis explains our own minds can become our personal “hell” if we are unwilling to let go of things that are not of heaven. His argument, which I agree with, is there is no room for anything that is not heavenly in the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father. Likewise, there is no place for the things of God to be built into the fabric of anything unholy, untrue, and unrighteous. God does not share his holiness so we can settle for good things, he does not share his truth that we may believe in half-truths or partial truths, and he absolutely will not share his righteousness with anything unrighteous, though we will argue day and night creating a theology or a philosophy that fits our personal preferences.
Even though this next thought is seemingly unrelated, give me a moment and I’ll promise to bring it back around. On Tuesday we paid a visit to the local primary school where Josh spoke about the subject of Reconciliation from II Corinthians 5 and 6. With the attention, or lack of attention depending on the moment, from a couple hundred kids from the age of five to sixteen, Josh spoke about the depths of II Corinthians 5:21, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In a culture where everyone has heard the name of Jesus, yet even amongst themselves everyone still struggles with injustice, poverty, hunger, and incredible brokenness in their homes, we believe strongly the youth in this community will be the ambassadors of Christ who do not just know about him, but recognize that Jesus died on the cross so that they (we) might become the righteousness of God. We might become the hands and feet of justice within our communities, we might visit those in prison, feed the hungry, and care for the widowed and orphaned not out of obligation but because the love of God has captivated our hearts and we long to do it.
The greatest obstacle isn’t that people have never heard of Jesus. Here, there are very few examples to follow of what Jesus calls us to. People have become trapped in their own hell, held up within their mind because there are so many half-truths and partial truths they are unable to let go of. Though this may seem like a struggle very different from in the United States because of grass roof huts and simple living, it’s not. Sure, the way of life is different and culturally we may be apples and oranges, but we still struggle with our own illusions of knowledge. Our misunderstandings usually come from believing we know more than we can possibly know through our immediate access to infinite amounts of information. Yet, many of the difficulties we face here in Uganda stem from very limited access to information of any kind. Not only do most families not have access to their own Bible, but the level of education often leaves many unaware of many things we would consider common knowledge. It is the closest thing to an oral culture I have ever experienced, even land and ownership is communicated verbally through family heritage, and one can be arrested on accusation before any evidence is ever collected. The amount of “he said/she-said” conversation I run into is overwhelming. Yet that is the gospel many people know, something communicated through a generational game of “telephone”.
As I see firsthand the hell in which our Illusion of Knowledge creates, I am drawn back to C.S. Lewis’ analogy. There is no room in heaven for anything unheavenly; we can’t cling tightly to products of our broken humanity and long to take them with us as we build Jesus’ kingdom. We needed the cross, just as much as we need it now, that we might become the righteousness of God. That through the ultimate act of love we would not only be justified, but over a lifetime we would be transformed more and more into his image and likeness. As Paul calls us, ambassadors of Christ, those who are righteous before God and actively demonstrating God’s heart for steadfast love, righteousness, and justice on the earth (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Jesus was never supposed to be a prison within our mind which keeps us from doing his work, but if we live within our partial-truths that is what our faith can become. Everything about Jesus is supposed to be about giving life, freeing, and becoming fully satisfied in being the righteousness of God.
As I sit here and wonder about all that He is doing, and as I try to make sense of my unexplainable emotional state, I pray the Lord reveals my own Illusions of Knowledge. I do not want to spend a lifetime clinging to things that do not matter on this side of heaven. I want to be His, and I want everyone to understand the life available to us the moment we accept Jesus as both Savior and Lord. As he continues to teach me his heart, I see he longs for the best for all his people, but that doesn’t always mean it will be the easiest and the most comfortable. Yet if we are willing to trust him, I promise it will be the most satisfying adventure we could ever embark on. If we are willing, if we accept Jesus as he is, he will make us to become the righteousness of God.