Column 1 is where we get our sense of “ought”. We ought to know our creator, and we ought to be defined by love, and we ought to be wisely ruling over creation in healthy ways. Life ought to be good. When it is, we are extra-convinced in the existence and virtue of “ought”.
Column 2 deals with the ways that what “ought” is not. Why is it that our hearts are so battered and broken? Why are we driven to addictions and distractions? Why do we seek something ultimate and can’t seem to sort it out among us?
This is the problem. The ‘ought’ we crave is not with us. The ideal is not consistently what we experience in the real.
Column 3 is the solution. The Creator in creation showed us glimpses of “ought”. John the prophet was experiencing the effects of all that is “not what ought” and was told:
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
But just as John’s devotion to the ‘ought’ was met with intensified ‘not’, the same happened to Jesus. But with Jesus we see an overwhelming collision of ought vs. not. The rejection and the resurrection end up with a promise. New creation is replacing old creation. Ought to not, has and is, turning from not to ought.
Column 4 is the application. We are called to experience and collude with the return of ‘ought’. We do it by believing that the confrontation is personal and royal in Jesus. That promises us a relational ‘ought’; no condemnation. It also promises us a future ‘ought’, which is column 5. But we do not have all that we ought. We pursue rumors and possibilities of ‘ought’ in our devotion and diligence in this life, fully facing the rejection of the powers entrenched in the world that is not what it ought. We know enough to persevere, but not enough to see clearly. We must trust, and that is hard.
Column 5 gives us strength as our telos, our end, our purpose, our future. It is a sketch of ought that is even richer than column 1. The physical world, the relational world and the spiritual world are brought into health and harmony such that life works, and it does so with matured gratitude and humility.
As I keep circling this greater Story, this uncontainable mystery, I am challenged. I want to be like those who ‘splain it all. A-Z, just like this. And when I write, inevitably I start to move that way. But like I tell younger friends, those who still seek advice: before you preach what you are saying, test it. Take your draft and read it back into your current life and anxieties and pressures. Now how does it sound?
What is meant to happen is a fresh appreciation for the tension we live in. We surely are meant to be devoted to the renewed hope in ‘ought’ but we must be honest about the pervasive and invasive presence of ‘not’. We groan, the Spirit groans, even creation groans in the tension of the already but not yet. What is it that is unresolved? Why the intensity?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
The glory of royalty is sensed but not clearly seen. There is conflict and anticipation.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
My body is not redeemed. That is the part of my adoption that is not yet. I live in the promise of ‘ought’ but I am embodied ‘not’. And so, yes, there is groaning among the informed (Creation, the Spirit, and Spirit filled people). And as I grow through study and reflection and the hounding dissonance around me, I want to grow with hope, and to do so patiently.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.