Tonight was the first night of our discussion group on “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. Basically we went around the room and talked a bit about who we are and why we were interested in this book. There was one thing in particular that really blew me away. Nearly everyone in the room said something about needing the fellowship of other Christians.
It got me to thinking about a quote I read. My beautiful wife likes to read a magazine called “The Week.” The magazine compiles the top news stories from all sorts of papers around the world. It’s really a pretty good way to get your news. They take stories from both sides of the fence, and you end up with something that almost resembles journalism. But that’s a story for another day. My personal favorite section of the magazine (besides the obvious–the comics) is the quote section.
This week there was a quote from Sydney Harris. To be honest, I don’t really know much (okay, anything) about the guy. But the quote really hit home. He said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” This kept popping in my mind tonight as people spoke of their need for community and relationship. Harris was, I think, speaking of education of one particular type of knowledge. But there are more ways than one to know something. According to Steven Buhner’s book “The Secret Teaching of Plants” the heart produces as many neruotransmitters as the brain. In many ways the heart is as much (or more…or at least differently) an organ of perception as the brain. N.T. Wright talks about a clinical scientific knowledge (brain knowledge) versus an intimate, inexplicable knowledge (heart knowledge). That intimate knowledge that can only be experienced through the perception of the heart is better known as “love.”
So, when Harris speaks of education, not knowing him, I do not know what exactly he meant. But, a full education, an education in the deeper knowledge that is love truly does turn mirrors into windows. Through most of the evening I had this image in mind of each of us sitting in little glass boxes in the darkness. At night, when it is pitch black outside, when you look from inside your house out the windows, all you can see is a dim, distorted reflection of yourself. This is how most of us experience reality. We are floating on our own little islands and can only communicate through smoke signals and metaphors, but no one can really break through. We get glimpses of others, but looking from our dark glass through their dark glass, all we get are these twisted images. All of our glass is wasted as a mirror.
Education in the deeper sense here, that is in a relationship of love, is about slowly, gradually, turning up our own dimmer switch, and having others do the same for us. As each of us open up and let light shine out to others, it makes the glass box more transparent. The images slowly become more crisp. The distortions become less frightening. This cannot be done to perfection in this world. But this same process is being worked out on the whole of reality. The Holy Spirit is in the process of helping each of us turn up our dimmers, and God is slowly allowing His light to shine to us as well. Imagine looking at your reflection in your window at midnight on the darkest night you can picture. Now imagine looking at this reflection all night until finally the sun begins to rise. Gradually, one thing at a time, things become clearer in the light of the sun. This love/light is what connects us to each other, and draws us into relationship with the original relationship; the Triune God. Jesus Himself taught us in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
God has, from all eternity, been a God of relationship. We were not created because God was lonely. God was not like Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science, creating someone to keep Him company because He couldn’t get a date on Saturday night. God, by the triune nature, was already in the perfect, eternal, intimate love relationship that we each long for. We were created as an outflow of that love, and to participate in that love. We are to start now. This is the root of our need for love. This is the root of our need to belong to something bigger than us. Each connection that we make is another spark that illuminates our little glass box and turns our mirrors into windows.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12