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Messy theology - some musings

Posted by Lucy Moore on 24 Sep 2008

There are different sorts of mess: some to fight against (Tidy Your Bedroom!), some to glory in. There are different sorts of order: some to fight against (Heil Hitler!), some to glory in. Perhaps the whole Christian story is one that swings between terrifying chaos and wild glory; between rigid order and free-flowing pattern.

In the beginning there was chaos and God brought order and pattern out of the chaos. It was good. And it was a good mess as God created asymmetrical trees, dappled fish, giraffes... and no straight lines anywhere.

But human beings messed up.

And laws and rules and regulations, straight lines, boundaries and limitations had to follow.

God chose to work with messy lives. The story of the Jewish people is not a neat unfolding but a mess of unfinished business, imperfect lives, limitations and false starts. Jesus chose to spend most of his time with messy people. The neat people didn't like the way he broke the rules, pushed through the barriers, exploded limitations. It was better to tidy him out of the way. But he burst out of their control and turned the tidy tomb of their regulations into glorious uncontrollable life.

The mess of the Spirit is creativity, life, regeneration, power redistributed, worlds colliding. The mess of the Spirit is unfinished business, ends still hanging loose, potential right up to the very last moment. Work in progress is a mess. Artists make a mess. Children are really good at mess.

God works through his Church and in the lives of individuals. So, is he actually content with mess? Does his Church reflect his mess? Do I expect to be a mess until my final moment? And will heaven be as tidy as I think?