The nature of reality is that there are different levels of it. This is patent and does not need to be argued for. Consider the yawning spectrum of reality that at one end is the boundless universe of stars (10 billion galaxies each with 10 billion stars) and at the other end is the atomic (10 to the 28th atoms in the human body). Consider the factory of activity in a domain that our naked eyes will never see-the single cell:
"Molecular highways haul cargo from one place to another along 'highways' made of other molecules, while still others act as cables, ropes, and pulleys to hold the cell in shape. Machines turn cellular switches on and off, sometimes killing the cell or causing it to grow. Solar-powered machines capture the energy of photons and store it in chemicals. Electrical machines allow current to flow through nerves . . ." (Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box).
Within this ponderous layering, you and I and our daily trips to the supermarket would seem to be found somewhere in the middle. Immensity stretches above us and below us. We go about our business for the most part unmindful of these parallel universes in the macro and the micro of life.
All of which is to set up the subject that is really on my mind this morning. It has seemed to me for some time that we tend to mistake where the real "action" is in the Christian life, as we erroneously direct all our focus to certain "layers" or "levels" of Christian reality that are not, at the end of the day, as consequential-or as emphasized by Christ-as other layers.
If I may illustrate by example: I have a friend who worked for many years for a well-known Christian ministry dedicated to laudable Scriptural, cultural goals. But what actually kept my friend awake nights was the hurtful office backbiting and power plays. So there you have it: two strata of reality, one the all-consuming focus, the other ignored.
The danger is always that the "macro" strata (sweeping cultural goals) tends to be more visible and to swallow up the "micro" strata (love of the brethren in the organization). The latter grinds on under the radar, under our noses, invisible. We forget about the elemental human relationships. We forget about love.
Yet another strata in the Christian universe is the strata of theology and doctrines and their preservation. This is a noble work, and the Lord has called and gifted certain men and women specifically for the task of writing and teaching and publishing sound theology. I will call this also a "macro" level. Often invisible in the pursuit of the "macro" level of theological discussion is the "micro" or elemental level of human relationships, of love. I have from time to time been privy to stratospheric theological debates that were so vituperative that as to be light years from the pure and simple doctrine of love that should be bedrock to Christian life.
All of this dovetails with what the Lord has been teaching me in my own little life of children and neighbors and laundry and blog posting: In the dizzying array of stimuli that we call our lives-the macro and the micro things we do-I believe that the cellular level is where it's at. This present moment's choice to love God and to love the brethren is the most elemental and consequential of all. And from it flows the health of every other enterprise.
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