Faith in 3D (May 2013)

3D is big again. 

For the past few years, the big, blockbuster movies have all been released in 3D and for the first time since the ’50s, we regularly have crowds of people willingly wearing goofy-looking glasses as they sit through a movie.

3D is spreading to the home as 3D programs and glasses are being developed for TV and Internet viewing.

Now we also have something called 3D printing. This is a process of making a three-dimensional, solid object in just about any shape from a digital model. Successive layers of material – liquid plastic that hardens quickly – are added one at a time, just like a desktop printer prints an image one line of ink at a time.

3D printing can even be used to make some replacement body parts! Scientists are using the technology to create ears and other outer organs using living cells as the “ink”!

Three dimensions are almost always preferable to two (although some of the world’s most beautiful artworks are 2D paintings and drawings). We live in a 3D world!

Our faith, too, can be flat or well-rounded. Think of these three basic components of our faith:

Personal Spirituality – This includes individual prayer, spiritual practices and our personal relationship with God.

Community Worship – We gather in church or in other faith communities to express our thanks to God and to praise God for the good in all of creation.

Justice, Peace and Forgiveness – These are gifts from God and, in turn, we are expected to spread these gifts.

Any one of these aspects of Christian faith seems just fine on its own.

Even so, Jesus and many of the prophets in the Older Testament warned Israel that God prefers justice to worship. It’s not that God doesn’t want justice, but if worship and personal prayer are not accompanied by justice, peace and forgiveness, they are empty acts with no meaning to God.

Likewise, the pursuit of justice without a moral grounding can lead to some seriously skewed results. Moral groundings can have many sources; for Christians, we find that grounding in the teachings, life, death and resurrection of the Christ. And we find wisdom in our holy scriptures.

We have to be careful, though. The Bible itself can be two-dimensional. When we think of it as a book that is all but preserved in amber for the past several centuries, it can seem as dead as the trees it is printed on. When we see the Bible as a fixed document that speaks to us in the same way as it did to desert nomads and other ancient peoples, then we are sabotaging our holy book.

But when we interpret our scriptures through the lens of our own context, experiences, science, reason, intellect, and ongoing revelation, then the book comes alive for us today. The Bible is 3D. No goofy glasses needed.

May the peace of Christ be yours, Pastor Gage 

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