Stop Loving People, Part 6

This article is the sixth installment of a series entitled Stop Loving People by Josh Dyson. Part 6 continues from the last article posted here.

Solution #5: Adopt an Apocalyptic view of your people (persons)

Now before your mind starts racing ahead to envisioning your “naughty students” and “heathen coworkers” being trampled upon under the hooves of the Four Horsemen, consider what James K. A. Smith says of an Apocalyptic view of reality

“Seeing the world and our culture in this way requires a kind of wake-up call, a strategy for jolting us out of our humdrum familiarity and comfort with these institutions in order to see them for what they are. Interestingly, Scripture has a way of doing this: it’s called ‘apocalyptic’ literature. Apocalyptic literature—the sort you find in the strange pages of Daniel and the book of Revelation—is a genre of Scripture that tries to get us to see (or see through) the empires that constitute our environment, in order to see them for what they really are. Unfortunately, we associate apocalyptic literature with ‘end-times’ literature, as if its goal were a matter of prediction. But this is a misunderstanding of the biblical genre. The point of apocalyptic literature is not prediction but unmasking—unveiling the realities around us for what they really are. While the Roman Empire pretends to be a gift to civilization and the zenith of human accomplishment, John’s apocalyptic perspective from a heavenly angle shows the reality: Rome is a monster.”[1]He follows up with an analogy of louvered window blinds that shift 90 degrees, but if you set them at a 45 degree angle, then depending on how you look at them, you get a different view. He goes on to say, “We need to become anthropologists who try, in some way, to see our familiar surroundings with apocalyptic eyes…”[2]Let’s try out an examples: See that guy that looks all smooth and charismatic?…. Step over here and look from this angle … It’s a dragon.

It is seeing the wizard behind the curtain. It’s seeing things as they really are. Because sometimes we get so caught up in seeing the world through one particular lens that we actually fail to see things for what they really are… Are you ready to see your students, children, parents, co-workers, administrators… for what they really are?

Might we adopt this view of that student in our classroom that drives us nuts, that co-worker that you avoid in the office, that parent that lingers a little (or a lot!) too long, or that administrator that just doesn’t “get it”. I believe it can be well argued that C. S. Lewis provides us with the most powerful extra-biblical apocalyptic lens in his Weight of Glory:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.[3]Now, with the apocalyptic imagination that God has given you in Christ, envision—imagine that individual in your classroom/school in all the glory they do and will possess in this world and the world to come…. and say to yourself, “He/She is my neighbor.”

[1]You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith, p. 39.

[2]You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith, p. 40.

[3]The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis.

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