Sunday with Michael Spencer
Complex Me (from “Icebergs, Onions and Why You’re Not As Simple As You Think” – 2008)
I’m an iceberg, an onion, a mystery. I’m complex and rarely insightful into myself. Thousands of experiences co-exist in me at the same time. I’m a library of presuppositions and passively accepted versions of the truth. When I write a post, preach a sermon, respond in a conversation or give advice to a student, I am anything but simple. I’m complex and only partially aware of that complexity.
This doesn’t mean I can’t understand the simple statements of the Bible or believe and act on them with integrity. It does mean that I need to stop talking about myself as if I am a blank slate, and begin accepting myself as a human being.
I am a person on a journey. That journey has been rich and diverse. It began before I was born. It’s gone on when I was aware and unaware of all that was happening to me. I’ve been shaped by God through a variety of influences, and in one way, there is a sacredness to how God has chosen to shape my life. At any moment that I present myself to God, I am accepted as the “iceberg” of known and unknown influences that make me ME.
I don’t need to fear my complexity. I don’t need to ignore it or misrepresent it. There’s no point in speaking as if my understanding of truth is unaffected by all that preceded this moment and what is going on at this moment.
The Holy Spirit works with us as the human beings that we are. “Search my thoughts O God” is an invitation for God to work with me and all that makes me a person at this moment.
Is this an endorsement of some postmodern skepticism toward propositions? Is it another emerging denial of truth?
No. It’s simply an observation that I don’t “just” read the Bible and do what it says without bringing along all my personal influences and multiple layers of my personal history and experience.
There’s a reason certain ideas appeal to me, others are uninteresting to me and some never will make sense to me.
There are reasons I’ve come to the “obvious” conclusions that I have.
There are reasons I perceive some truth and can’t see other truth.
There are reasons my understanding of being a Christian falls easily towards some things and is repelled and conflicted by others.
I am complex. I have a history. I have influences. I’m not a robot. I am a person.
Knowing God’s truth is always a miracle of the Holy Spirit. I’m beginning to appreciate that more and more as I come to understand all that’s made me the person I am today.