Spokes unite in the hub, but it is emptiness at the center that makes the wheel turn…
A pot is made of clay, but it is emptiness in the center, that holds the contents…
A house is made of wood, but it is emptiness within the walls that makes it inhabitable…
A human is made of flesh and blood, but it is emptiness at the center that makes us useful…
~ Lao zi, in chapter 11 of the 道德经, The book of The Way
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of His power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. … For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
~ Paul, the least of the Apostles, in Ephesians 2
Oh beloved, it is true.
Our world presents itself to us as a complicated system. And in so many ways, it is. Our planet itself is a dazzlingly complex system that has had the potential to support millions of giga-tons of life for thousands and millions of years. Even just part the planet we are on is crazy amazing, with a counter-rotating inner core, that creates stability and a magnetic field which protects us from all sorts of dangerous stuff from space. And to share another part of the complexity, I recently learned that there are somewhere between 10 million and 1 billion viruses (very few viruses are dangerous) in one gram of soil. And the gram of soil itself is built out of the 6.7 quintillion molecules of silicon dioxide and such in each grain of sand or other soil types.
Scale this up to a human body, and there are 37 trillion cells; each cell being FAR more complex than a modern factory, or even a modern computer chip. These systems work together to enable our body, a bio-mechanical-chemical machine, to run on nearly any kind of food product for up to 120 years. And, even more amazingly, they are marvels that enable a male version and a female version of this miracle machine to make cute new little baby miracles.
But the scale goes quite larger! Our universe has up to 300 billion galaxies, each with about 100 million stars. That is something like 30 quintillion stars, spread across 8.23 sextillion miles. And spread throughout this universe are some of the most amazingly complex gravitational and fusion-based systems that have manufactured all of the 118 basic elements from which everything else it built. The numbers alone leave us with our jaw kind of dropping open, and overload floods our brains.
The most amazing part about this? All stuff. Everything material can actually be described by a few relatively simple mathematical equations, and they are made up of merely 18 different ‘flavors’ of quantum parts.
And, when it comes to biology, while the outworking of biochemical processes are highly complex, they are run by chemistry that is enforced by some pretty basic Physics, and the information required to run each of these processes is stored using a library with only 4 letters.
What does this weird mix of complexity and simplicity have to do with our Life in Christ?
Can we see it?
We get it. Life and our faith can create complex problems. We have decisions to make that will affect our lives now, and forever. And these decisions are influenced by so many factors. So much so, that in trying to figure out what to do, we can feel lost.
The Apostle Paul wrote of this conundrum in Romans 7. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, … For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
And it is here that we get to the point of this entry.
For all its complexity, our faith really does come down to some very basic “Physics” of its own. And, no matter how hard we try to make it – especially us formerly lost boys from the Colony of Mercy (with our messed up thinking and life-dominating sin) – returning to the First Things of the Gospel will always help us sort things out.
(1) There is a G_d. We are not Him. This same Creator made us in His image. We were made to Love, Live and Act like the Divine.
(2) We – each of us – are sick and broken. We have fallen short of this Design. None of my own work, my own thinking, my own wisdom is going to fix this eternal problem. Apart from Christ, we are – and can do – nothing… We are completely empty.
(3) However, in seeing the reality of our emptiness; our nothingness, we begin to see that #1 and #2 above are some very, very, very good news! We can put our faith in The One Who really is The Way through all of the complexities of our life.
(4) In seeing our nothingness, we turn and see the completeness of Jesus! In our abasement, we engage the faith that enables His Holy Spirit to graciously invade our lives and to fill us to the fullness we were Designed for in the first place. This Abundance Life is the only thing that can fill the abysmal depths of the inner emptiness we have apart from Him.
So, do you see the dazzling complexity of this world? Do you have dozens, or even hundreds of questions about your faith in Jesus? Good! We have a long eternity that will great our bliss with an everlasting embrace and space for those questions to be answered!
But tonight? May this fool of a writer give you some advice? Keep it simple.
Tonight is our night to let the profound simplicity of the Gospel work its way into our inner man. Let it flow. Let it flood over the confusing and complex and dry areas of your soul. Let your emptiness be made available for HIS filling.
A line from Thomas Merton when he went to the Abbey of Gethsemani, as a young man, just to go on retreat, and he’s being drawn into the Faith. He did that retreat there, and then he wrote afterwards, “I found the still point around which the whole country revolves without knowing it.” Beautiful, see what he had found was the adoration of Jesus, and right praise.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Think About This: “Contrary to what we expect to be the case, therefore, the deeper into weakness and suffering and testing we go, the deeper Christ’s solidarity with us. As we go down into pain and anguish, we are descending ever deeper into Christ’s very heart, not away from it.” ―