Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Glorious Ruin

Dear friends,

Francis Schaeffer has an apt description for the human species.  He refers to us as a "glorious ruin".  I've never been to Europe, or the Middle East, but I understand there are some pretty remarkable ruins in those places.  Apparently Greece tops em' all.  Somehow in the broken pillars and cracked marble of the Temple of Poseidon or the Acropolis of ancient Athens, the former glory can be tasted and almost seen.  All the cracks and crumbles of the lofty designs of men can't completely conceal the original maker's ideal.  So it is with buildings.  So it is with us.

This weekend I went on a short trip with DFG in conjunction with the New York School of Urban Ministry. 
Part of our time was spent in outreach to homeless  folks in Manhattan, and part was spent in Sunset Park, Brooklyn canvassing the neighborhood with resource information for kids in the Children of the City program.  In both these places I saw evidence of the glorious ruin.  It may sound cliche, but there really was a charm and beauty behind the eyes of the men and women we encountered on the street.  Even Willie, the mentally ill fellow whose sentences were a maze of non sequiturs and wild imaginings, sported the spark of the Divine in his tender kindness and undaunted hope.  In Sunset Park, one little boy, crammed into an immigrant apartment with lots of other people, beamed with joy in his impoverished conditions.  I wept when I hit the stoop.  Perhaps that's how people feel when they walk away from the Mayan Pyramid ruins.  The glory still shines in the decay.  The Architect's intent pricks our desire for the original greatness.

This is why I love Jesus Christ so much:  His full intention, from Genesis to Revelation, is to restore His people to their first glory.  To resurrect them with the love and beauty and grace they were always meant to have- but that cannot be had separate from the Source of Life.  He is determined to rip us from the clutches of an oppressive enemy, to save us from the slavish horror of self, and to be our Father in the true and right sense of what that relationship means.  I don't have to look very far at all to find the glorious ruin.  No need to travel to a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn or a paper box house on 51st street.  I only need look in my own soul to find that longing that remains for truth and purity and real love.  Amid my sinful, foolish ways that dog me every day, I see something else - something more.  I see the hope of redemption.  I know the ongoing struggle of sanctification and I believe in the blessed hope of the Great Day to come.  On that day, all my darkness will finally be swallowed up in light.  The broken down cottage will indeed be a palace.  The scripture says it this way:

" Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” ~1Corinthians 15:51-57

Remember, when you see the ruin, the Great One sees the glory... These old Acropolises will stun us beyond all our imaginings...Hallelujah, my Redeemer lives!

Your fired up friend on the pilgrim road,


A shout out to the truly excellent and honorable people I spent the weekend with.  What a privilege to hang with the likes of you. 

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