Sunday, September 7, 2008

Eswine: Preach What is Real


Zach Eswine begins his book Preaching to a Post Everything World talking about the importance of preaching what is "real."  He uses the illustration of his two  year old son who was unhappy when his two older siblings had empty glasses and pretended to pour water from cup to cup.  The two-year old could not conceptually understand the game of pretend water and longed for REAL water, not pretend.

He uses this a as way to introduce the need for us to Preach What is Real. 

Eswine quotes Simone Weil in Gravity and Grace to say, "Imagination and fiction go to make up more than three-quarters of our real life. Rare indeed are the the contacts with good and evil."  He continues:

Life is filled with things imagined.  Sometimes we imagine good and are helped:  A picture of a flower can make a long winter endurable.  A memory of his wife can enable a soldier to survive the bullets on his tour of duty. Pretend water for plastic ups gives children the enjoyment of play.  But when life is on the line, it is preferable to touch the actual flower; hold the actual woman, and drink the tactual water than to hold all the pictures, memories and empty cups of the world.

Weil's point also reminds us that life is filled with imagined evils.  A woman worries all her life that her children may be harmed. She suffers their imagined deaths a thousand times while they play ball, swing on swings, and blow out birthday candles.  A man fears that someone will harm him., He faces the imagined intruder every time his family takes a walk at night, he has some moments to himself, or he attends a crowded festival of celebration. Better to worry and fear when the actual moment of suffering arises than to suffer an imagined misery all of one's days while surrounded by joy.

To make true contact is to touch the real thing, to treasure the flower more than the picture of the flower; the person more than the memory, the actual moment more than potential moments.  It is to outrun mirages, disrupt illusions, and expose forgeries.  Preaching is mean by God to do this rare thing.

I have been camping in the Oregon coast range the past couple of days with Loretta and my parents who are in visiting from Colorado.  The discussion turned at one point to the things that cause fear in our lives.  I quoted the above section, not as a call to real preaching, but as a call to not borrow trouble.  We expend so much emotional energy worrying about things that never happen.

I appreciate Eswine's reminder of these truths. 

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