Apocatastasis: starting over; restoration of an initial state.
Jesus is the alpha and the omega--the omega and the alpha.
The Redeemer bends the straight line of time and experienced reality into a circle or a horseshoe. In this reality, the end and the beginning actually look at each other. They are the closest to each other. And it is the figure of Christ which crosses that divide. It is the rebirth. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “I know how to get where you want to go, but you can’t start from here. Anywhere you are on this circle is further from the place I am, and the place you should be. The closest place to the end is the beginning.”
Except ye become as little children.
I destroyed my own city walls in darkness. In blindness, I self-destructed. The anger of the Lord had smitten me. Eventually the walls were repaired--but not by me.
Who repaired them?
But only as I began to wake up to my brokenness and see the world with new eyes--see it as God does—with love. I saw the healing that is possible if I ministered to others in their sickness as Christ did. And it was ONLY then that my broken city walls began to be repaired.
In the healing of others I am healed.
Now I understand that my Temple of Beauty is not desecrated by the world, but beautified by it. As brokenness is redeemed, glory shines round consecrating all within its glow.
The idea in Isaiah 60 is that the protection and security we really want in life (the city walls) are best achieved and maintained, not by arrogantly hiding behind false walls, but by shining forth the Glory of God like the noonday sun in a dark world. It is His love pouring outward from our temple towards the world that protects the temple on all sides. God’s love and light is both vanguard and rearguard. The gates can now stand open in every moment of life, in every reality, on the other side of every choice, marching into every future and promised land. And the enemy we once walled off with exhaustive effort—piling and plugging stone after ugly stone into every defect—become friends and fellow workers repairing our crumbling walls without any effort of our own.
Crime is not a disease although it is treated as such. Like a patient with a disease, the criminal afflicted with crime is held in a sterilized environment waiting for remission or relapse; passively accepting life as a prisoner, asking the arbitrary and unanswerable question, "How much longer?" But crime is not passive and is not cured with passive measures. Behind it all is an active choice whose only cure is an active choice.
So what about a weak, lukewarm, anxious, unheroic life that never hits a bullseye (in short: a life of sin)?
This also is an active choice. It is not passive.
This is also a crime.
To be a mediocre Christian is impossible. It simply means to be a mediocre person. To live (or die) like a patient resigned to his fate--a mere innocent victim with a diagnosis of original sin--is the ACTIVE choice to passively sit by as the disease takes its toll; choosing hospice because there is nothing else to do except wait. "Look, maybe I am in remission! Oh no, I have relapsed! Well, at least I have a disease to blame it on!"
No, to be a sinner "neither hot nor cold" is not as tepid and passive as it sounds. It is active participation in the most heinous crime of all: the murder of LIFE. To live out a grayish mediocrity before the red blood and flowing water of Christ on the cross is a hatred of life. It is an act of violence against goodness, truth, and beauty--an active choice to live opposite: to live in bland, dull, fearful clinginess.
A million tiny willful violations slowly accumulate into a life of empty insanity. And it takes a counterbalanced choice--a violent choice-- worth a million insanities to jump out of it:
It is the violent leap into the stormy sea that cures its rage and saves the foundering ship. It is the headlong flight into the torrential furnace of Old Jerusalem and down the gullets of beasts that snuffs out fires in three days. It is always a singular act of volition, in bright opposition to all “common sense,” that everything terrible with a mouth regrets devouring. It quells and sickens the heart-fires of Old Jerusalems, Old Covenants, and Old Kings. It is then the irrevocable happens--from the depths comes a distant song:
“I lift my eyes to the hills.”
The earth lurches.
The Old Men, The Beasts, and The She-dragons have no choice but to hurl the new born back to shore.
New Jerusalem is here.
Truth always comes to a head. A point. Like Nathan Jessup couldn't about himself--we can’t handle it. Like not being able to handle snakes. But to live again, you must be able to. And will be able to.
I was the governor of my province. And everything was jacked up. Everything was in turmoil.
All my decisions seemed to make it worse.
Then at the very end. When the foundations were trembling. When it was critical and the heat was on; I got out of the limelight; away from the crowds; into the back room of myself. The judge's chambers—the green room. That place no one else enters. The ego’s lair. Behind the wizard’s curtain. And in that quiet place, guess who was in there? Jesus. It turns out he had been trying, all this time, to save my world; but man, he was bloody and beaten to a pulp—bound with cords. And there was this other voice in that room. One who would do everything to stroke my ego—to keep it safe. One who “cared about Me.” It whispered in my ear, “Get out of here! Now! You do not want to confront this!”
Then. I spoke.
“See! The truth is...the truth is…See, I know what the truth is! It was everybody else that...They deserve…Now look, I know what I’m saying! I’m in control! I didn’t hurt anybody! The reason all this is happening is...What happened was...the truth is...the truth is…the truth…
...What is the truth?”
And as he was dragged out, back into that other place—that front place—where life actually happens--leaving me in silence, Jesus did not speak. Just left this question ricocheting off the walls of that far back room:
“You’re the governor. The top of the rule of law. You control judgment. You sit at the judgment seat. You’re making all these decisions out in the light of day. You decide who lives and dies; and back here...back behind it all...you don’t know what truth is?”
Error:_Danger Will Robinson.
Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.
Does not compute. Does not compute. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute...
Operating System Malfunction.
Error. Fatal error.
Because an alive 42 year old person should know what the truth is. Right? Uh oh. Oh no. It just might be that I’m not alive. That I don’t even know how to live.
Sick. Paralyzed. Lame. Blind. Dead. Desperate. Cold. Empty.
And then one fine day, like a fish out of water, gasping for my last breath, eyes wide and dilated, moaning, catatonic; floating in the surf; I listlessly bump up against something. And Jesus looks down and says gently, “hey, look who finally washed up at my feet.”
“Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.”
A common complaint of my relationship with my wife was that I was never in sync with her. That is how I would say it to myself. If I was up, she was down. If I was down, she was up. Eventually, I realized that our “out of sync”-ness was not only a sign of a very broken relationship—it was a sign of a very broken person. Sadly, darkly, I saw myself for what I was: a man who claimed to follow Christ, but who actively participated in taking his wife’s joy away. If she was feeling positive and enthusiastic about anything, then to the inverse proportion, I became negative and resentful. And, conversely, as her sorrow increased I could not help becoming more positive and contemptuous towards her weaknesses. Then, afterwards, in an ultimate evil move, I would rationalize and justify my behavior to her and to myself. Lies, lies, lies.
I should have been doing the hard work at the right time. I should have been tending God’s creation in a way that makes life flourish (It is after all my world for which he called me to take responsibility). I should have been sharing sorrows, lifting my wife’s burdens, helping in the low times. And then, just as harvest time arrived, sharing in the joys, being enthusiastic for and with her. This is the sign of a redeemed relationship.