Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Cracks, Light, & Sainthood

It is part of popular culture that our cracks let the light in. It is another example of the Christian legacy in western culture. It is not in strength that God’s power is made perfect but in weakness. People easily miss the point that talking about our sins is another way of talking about our cracks. God doesn’t start with any self-proclaimed wholeness or perfection. God’s love winds its way into our hearts through the cracks, or to use traditional language, our sins. God’s love won’t divide us up, ostracizing the cracked bits and just working with the parts that aren’t cracked (to stay with the metaphor) but works the cracks to bring about genuine wholeness. People ask me why Christianity is so sin focused. This is why. Our cracks aren’t meant to be ignored or covered over. The cracks are God’s way in. God works the cracks, not the uncracked. ‘The saints’ in the New Testament are those made holy by God, and why so many great saints don’t have a holy past.

Sometimes we forget it is not the cracks that are important, it is the light. No one wants to admit to wallowing in our problems. So it is more common to find the reverse of wallowing in our problems (cracks), such that admitting the cracks is in some way a noble gesture of great character. Or something to be proud of. That is really just the other side of the coin of wallowing in one’s problems. Wallowing in our cracks, or vainly parading the cracks focus on the cracks. The cracks are still a problem. The cracks remain unsettling, dangerous. The Christian tradition suggests a different path. A humbler path. Honesty, yes. Honesty, authenticity, lie at the heart of repentance. But the Christian path focuses on the light, not the cracks. It is because we are bathed in light that the cracks can be healed.

The cracks let the light in, but once the light is in, the whole vase is aglow. That’s the path to sainthood as most of us think of saints. The light shines through the saint. The cracks can let the light out, but the whole person is irradiated. While it is tempting to downplay ‘the saints’ because sainthood in the New Testament referred originally to being made holy, it is also important to remember the saints. They are, if you like, evidence of the power of the light.

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