Saturday, November 7, 2009

Knit Together

I don’t believe in karma, in the sense that we’re rewarded or punished in our life as a consequence of our actions in a previous life. I am, however, impressed at how our actions, even small ones, do have ramifications.

A couple years ago, I postponed a routine service check-up of our furnace-AC system because I had a mild cold. Our system was working fine, anyway. The service call was rescheduled for another day. But on that day, a storm temporarily knocked out our electricity. So I told our maintenance fellow that he could come the following day. He knew about the power problem because he’d already passed the team who were working on the lines.

Well, our power came back on. But wouldn’t you know it: our AC stopped working properly! It blew but did not cool. I called the company and scheduled an actual service call, too. But I thought: I should’ve kept that service check-up appointment a few weeks ago! Then I wouldn’t have AC problems on a hot day.

This kind of thing usually happens when I’m driving: if I’m in a hurry, I’ll always hit all the red lights!

That’s a joking view of life. I try not to become superstitious about changing plans, and anxious about possible outcomes of small decisions. You could become consumed in anxiety that way; I certainly do, if I'm not careful. But I'm constantly sobered by the way even small, everyday kinds of things have an interesting interconnection. Even as I write this, the Good Morning America show, playing in the background, has a story about how our telephone voices give crucial impressions to people: a small thing that can have significant consequences.

Again, I'm not affirming the notion of karma in the spiritual sense, but only the interconnectedness of "life," which all of us can observe. The theological issue of God's providence is important here: God does work for good in human circumstances (Rom. 8:28), but we cannot know exactly how or to what extent (Isa. 55:8-9). I once knew a church that struggled as a consequence of judicatory decisions (apparently handled with inadequate finesse) twenty years before. I've no doubt that God worked in that church, and yet the congregation was not spared ongoing, difficult challenges stemming from earlier events. Any of us can think of similar examples, in congregations or other aspects of life.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:16 that we are "knit together." Broadly applying those words, I think that "knit together" doesn't just mean fellowship, but the consequences of decisions and events which are always characteristic of human existence. All the more reason, as Paul teaches in that chapter, to knit ourselves together in the sense he means: love and mutual support!

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