In his innovative work on leadership entitled A Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman uses a creative and deadly accurate metaphor for how our world, as technologically advanced as it is, can be given over to counter-evolutionary processes.
He speaks of the "imigination gridlock" that Europe experienced for a thousand years that was created by a false yet pervasive perception of reality. The focal point of that gridlock was the equator, which was thought to be the end of the world. Fear and anxiety dominated their imagination even though they had the instruments, technology, and know-how to discover the great exapnse of our world. In a period as short as 50 years more discoveries occurred that revolutionized humanity's understanding of reality than has occurred in a thousand years! This was no gradual emergance year by year of what our world was really like. It was explosive and revolutionary and sudden. What happened? What great new piece of technology, what new scientific work, what new resources were tapped into to make this possible?
Though the answer to these questions are complex, debated, and beyond the scope of my intelligence and this post, Friedman offers a compelling part of the story often overlooked that has nothing to do with the above assumptions as to how progress occurs. He spoke of a few key leaders in that day that were willing to: abandon the either/or thinking that drove most debates, believe that the world the cartographers drew was not difinitive, and choose risk and adventure over safety and certainty.
Beacuse they were willing to launch out into the unseen, to believe that reality is not what most say it is, and to value pursuit more than security, they discovered a world larger and more glorious than they ever conceived. It is humorous how many mistakes these explorers made! Columbus died not even knowing what it was he had discovered! And he is not the only ill-informed lengend. But that didn't matter. Serendipity was valued more than data, accuracy, and perfect knowledge.
This is by far not intended to be a history lesson. So why bring this up? Well, I hope you already see the easily appliable principle of "imagination gridlock" that is created by an atmosphere desparate for certainty, security, the right answers, and safety. The applies to religious groups, coroporations, and families alike. Do we accept the reality that the cartopgraphers of our day draw up for us? Or do we launch out into a world we are convinced in bigger, broader, and richer than most are willing to consider?
Here is what got me thinking about this: a reading of the first three chapters of Ephesians. Take 8 minutes and read that. You will be flooded with images of a spiritual geogrpahy that you never knew existed! The landscape that Paul sketches for us is filled and flourishing and bountiful. It does not look like the world I have grown accustomed to walking around in. Paul speaks of riches, power, hope, wisdom, fullness, of having every spirirual blessing in Christ. He ruminates on a love that is to big to be known, calling us into a power that can do more than our imagination can conceive. As a cartographer Paul's map for the terrain God has created for us to walk around in looks radically differnt than the drab, just-getting-by neighborhoods we have accepted. And what is so powerful about this abundant world of God's lavish, prodigal giving is that Paul does not ask me to do something to make it a reality or sacrifice something to built it. He says that it already exists by the means of Jesus, and we are simply invited to participate in it. It exists. It is fully alive and all round us.
We are simply invited to get past the equator, to get over our imanginative gridlock created by anxiety, fear, and the assumptions that the map makers of our day are right. Paul invites us into risk, adventure, the abandonment of the illusion of security we are dominated by.
I want to walk around in the New World. I want to see what it is the God made by way of Jesus Christ. The world I have accepted is just too small.
"I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened so that we may KNOW..." the wonder and beauty of Your great world. Lead us to launch out past the equators of our hearts and our world into the vast Kingdom that is fully present among us even now by the work of Jesus Christ.