Sunday, 16 December 2012

Imitators Over Innovators

Western culture worships innovation.

On a national (macro) level and in a time of economic crisis, we appear captive to the belief that what will set us right is inventing / making the next big things, the next big services, the next big experiences that everyone - the world over wants to buy. 

On a personal (micro) level, we have come to believe that innovation or reinvention is the source of our fulfillment. TV is full of make-over programmes for faces, bodies and houses. One hit wonder opportunities are there, for those who want just 5 minutes of fame to show the world what they can do. 

We venerate strongly those people who refused to follow the herd and did something unique with their lives in the hope that deep down, we too, might be able to offer something noteworthy to the grand scheme of things and not pass away into the night unnoticed.

But if you have no sense of where we are supposed to be going in all of this, then the tail of innovation starts being chased by the head of culture. Humanity turns in on itself, running itself ragged in a state of perpetual cultural revolution for the pursuit of who knows what... playing God, maybe?


Jesus has a surprising take on this, pointing to something much deeper. His people are called to be imitators (John 15:7-8). This word strikes fear into many, because, it is assumed that if we are imitators and not innovators, we must therefore be:
  1. Inauthentic, 
  2. Devoid of real thought and emotion and worst of all 
  3. Doomed to cycles of mindless repetition which express themselves in ritual-based religion and a monochrome culture.
That would be true, if the God we are called to imitate is some kind of great big formula, the enormous feedback loop in the sky or the great Uncaused Cause.

But that is emphatically NOT who the God of the Bible is. The God of the Bible is a community of real diversity in loving unity and at the head of that community is a Father who loves his Son, giving the Spirit to him, the Son reciprocating that love, giving the Spirit to the Father and together Father and Son pour the Spirit out into the world.

This God is out-going Light not a dark black hole. This God is life-giving, not life-taking. This God is a cultivator not an assimilator.

From this eternal community of love flows a river that is forever new as together they redeem and transform the whole creation (Isaiah 48:6). That process of transformation is not linear, it ebbs and flows like the tide, but it will reach its conclusion.

Truth is not a principle to be found out, it is a person to be known - Jesus Christ.

Those who imitate this Jesus will always have new things to say, but those new things will never be a departure from him and his teaching or a denial of him. Rather, they will always be a new expression of the eternal truth of who he is and what he has done, a new synchronisation with it.

Life is not about innovating our own tune and to hell with everyone else, it's about taking our place in the orchestra and playing the tunes we are destined for, in harmony with the rest and at the command of the conductor - Jesus Christ.

Life is not an economic transaction, but a choral symphony of worship (Rev. 5:9). It may often feel discordant and disordered, but hold on in faith for there will be a glorious resolution and beautiful finale (Rev.21:1-2).

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