Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Beauty of Limits

There is an ethos that identifies our western culture, Christian or not: it is the belief that we, as humans, do not have limits. For many, this word is taboo and passé. As a western culture, in which technology blurs boundaries and furthers our messianic assumptions and our indulgent consumptions, we appear to have dropped the concept of limits almost completely. Technology, for all of its good, has done us a great disservice in luring us to believe that we can have whatever we want whenever we want it. For example, the internet has made many things possible that were unimaginable previously. If one wanted, one could shop for groceries, interact with family, find entertainment, and view others’ lives through the lens of their MySpace venue in a condensed, hyper-accelerated manner and in the comfort of their own home—and most do. In and of themselves, these things—the experiences and options that the internet offers—are not necessarily bad. But, I do argue that the driving expectation that the internet, and other forms of technology, has subtly created within each of us leads us ultimately to much that is not good. We begin to think limits and boundaries reduce our individuality and take away our freedom. When our ability to live as iPod-studded-islands is curbed in any way, in our western estimation, it is a harsh violation of that which we deserve. We are, in fact, entitled to whatever pleases us and suits our ever-changing tastes, right?

Wrong. We are not limitless creatures. We are not made to operate ex-boundaries. And, the truth of the matter is that we are not entitled to anything. The reality is that we are finite creatures who need limits; in fact, we cannot live without them. Believe it or not, limits are a means of God’s grace that we should embrace, not shun.

If we consider our need for sleep and our need for rest, we quickly can see that our life is ordered by a very real limit, and that very clearly we are not meant to live without bounds. This particular “speedbump” illustrates the beauty of a limit: we come to the end of ourselves on a daily basis, and we are met with rejuvenation and renewal. Or, if we consider our need for food and nourishment and look closely at the reality that not only is life structured by times of rest, but life is also designed for not only one meal per day, but three, we again encounter the reality of limits. We cannot last very long without food and nourishment or we grow weak and we cannot live a full life.

The mantra that our culture preaches of entitlement and a life lived without limits and in search everything that you can get your hands on is a dangerous lie. We are led to believe on many, many different levels and in many, many different ways that “we can have it all, all of the time.” And, the truth of the matter is that it is just not true.

Before you stop reading because you think that Captain No-Fun has arrived, let me ask you to continue and engage with the idea that the fullness of our lives is actually enhanced by limits.

So, if we are not made to live a life as western culture dictates, then what should our lives look like? Well, it is clear that we do have very real boundaries and that those boundaries (e.g. sleep and times for nourishment) actually enhance our lives. We are renewed with each, and these limits actually lead to more fulfillment, not less. Our self-indulgent society does not want us to believe this because it will mean real consequences for the machine of our culture — less consumption, less sales, less money, less expansion, less of a lot of things. But, it will ultimately mean more and more fulfillment, more and more joy, more and more of a realization that we are not gods, and that there is a God who desires us to live with true and complete joy and fullness and in dependence upon Him, our King. I suggest that He wants us to embrace our finitude. As we realize it as a good characteristic of our existence we have to look beyond ourselves. And, ideally we need to look to our King, who has made us in His image but with boundaries, and continually come back to Him.

Embracing our limits will lead us to a life not governed by cycles of wants and desires, but by a relationship with our Creator. Embracing our limits will lead us not to a life that lacks all that we truly desire—joy, love, laughter, relationship, peace, forgiveness, freedom, hope—but to a life that increases these characteristics because we do not have to create them, we rely on our King, Jesus Christ, to provide them out of His infinite character and being. Embracing our limits leads us away from ourselves, and closer to God. Limits, therefore, are a means of grace.

Ah, the design and the beauty of the gift of limits.

15 Comments:

At 7:11 PM, Blogger GL said...

Andrew, very good stuff. I needed to be reminded of this. Remind me again next week!

 
At 10:40 PM, Blogger Ruth Rachel Vendsel said...

Andrew, you are a touching on a very important subject, one that I have been thinking a lot about lately. Every semester, the demands of seminary always force me to face my limits -- and rely on grace. If I never had to eat or sleep, I could read more, accomplish more. Or if I didn't have to work for a living, I could read more. But God in his providence has ordained these limitations and said, "my grace is sufficient for you." You say that limits can be a means of grace - I think that is a rich concept with many possible applications. In my case, perhaps the Lord allows limitations to keep me trusting Him, knowing that I might tend to sin by seeking to become self-sufficient ("knowledge puffs up"). Instead, my human limitations keep me humble.

Lauren Winner wrote an excellent piece for Books and Culture on why Christians should develop a theology of sleep. Along the same lines, Pete Enns wrote a neat piece for the magazine ByFaith on a theology of sports and leisure, called "Loving Christ While I Cheer for the Yankees" in which he mentions the importance of developing a theology for every day activities, like sports, work, sleep, etc. As you point out, the demands of our culture do not encourage a faithful response in these areas-- and it is time for Christians to start thinking Christianly about them. What does it mean to be truly human? If you'll forgive a long quote, I think J. Alec Motyer puts it well:

"If we are to live for Him in the world there is a constant issue of commitment - loyalty that must be faced. Are we His or are we not? Are we His - not by virtue of a past decision allowed to grow stale - but in the daily pressure of the often small things by which our lives are besmirched? For it is more likely true that if life were all large decisions few of us would go far wrong. Yet faced with the world's ceaseless bombardment of our eyes, ears, thoughts, and imaginations, the world's insidious erosion of values and standards, the clamor for our time, money, and energy, it is easy to adopt a general way of life which, though it avoids the open pitfalls of sin, yet is not discernibly different from the style of one who does not know Christ. We may well decide to belong to Jesus yet fail to carry on that decision through with the rigor which alone proves that it was a real decision. It is one thing to yield our lives to Him, but it is another thing to live each moment of the day on His side of the great divide from the world."

 
At 6:48 PM, Blogger Andrew V. Kean said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:52 PM, Blogger Andrew V. Kean said...

Thanks for your thoughts and your willingness to engage this post.

I really do like the quote of Motyer's you referenced. His notion, that a life lived for Christ happens in the ordinary most often, is critical. I believe that we, as followers of Christ and image-bearers, are called, on a moment by moment basis to live a revolutionary life. And, though, it may feel very ordinary, extraordinary things will emerge, and our King will be illuminated in ways unimaginable.

A helpful prayer that a friend of mine introduced me to helps me:

"Hallow the ordinary, O King."

 
At 11:01 PM, Blogger chenlina said...

chenlina20150709
retro 11
timberland outlet
gucci outlet
tory burch outlet
jordan 6 rings
hollister kids
michael kors
michael kors
fitflops
jordan 13 shoes
coach outlet
louis vuitton handbags
jordan retro 11
louis vuitton handbags
hollister clothing
soccer jerseys
louis vuitton outlet
true religion sale
true religion
ray ban outlet
abercrombie and fitch
louis vuitton handbags
true religion sale
discount oakley sunglasses
adidas outlet
kids lebron james shoes
prada outlet
ray ban outlet
coach outlet
cheap jerseys wholesale
ray ban sunglasses
christian louboutin sale
hermes birkin
cheap jerseys
chi flat iron
air max shoes
true religion sale
ghd straighteners
burberry outlet
oakley vault

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

polo ralph lauren outlet online, michael kors outlet online, gucci handbags, nike free, nike outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses wholesale, michael kors outlet online, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin, replica watches, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet, prada handbags, jordan shoes, nike air max, uggs outlet, tiffany jewelry, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, longchamp outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, tiffany and co, ugg boots, nike air max, burberry handbags, christian louboutin shoes, christian louboutin outlet, uggs outlet, oakley sunglasses, prada outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet online, replica watches, christian louboutin uk, polo outlet, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, uggs on sale, kate spade outlet

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

louboutin pas cher, mulberry uk, north face, abercrombie and fitch uk, nike roshe, coach outlet, nike air max uk, vans pas cher, new balance, nike blazer pas cher, polo ralph lauren, true religion outlet, oakley pas cher, polo lacoste, jordan pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, north face uk, sac hermes, kate spade, ralph lauren uk, nike roshe run uk, nike air max, timberland pas cher, converse pas cher, ray ban uk, true religion jeans, nike air force, michael kors pas cher, hogan outlet, hollister uk, nike free run, michael kors, coach purses, ray ban pas cher, true religion outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, burberry pas cher, lululemon canada, michael kors outlet, air max, guess pas cher, coach outlet store online, longchamp pas cher, nike air max uk, replica handbags, nike tn, nike free uk, true religion outlet, michael kors, hollister pas cher

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

iphone cases, louboutin, bottega veneta, iphone 6s plus cases, hermes belt, iphone 6s cases, nfl jerseys, mac cosmetics, herve leger, timberland boots, nike huaraches, iphone 5s cases, hollister, baseball bats, instyler, iphone 6 plus cases, ipad cases, nike air max, s6 case, wedding dresses, asics running shoes, ferragamo shoes, vans outlet, north face outlet, longchamp uk, mont blanc pens, nike roshe run, p90x workout, north face outlet, beats by dre, ghd hair, new balance shoes, chi flat iron, jimmy choo outlet, soccer shoes, lululemon, nike trainers uk, abercrombie and fitch, mcm handbags, valentino shoes, iphone 6 cases, giuseppe zanotti outlet, hollister clothing, reebok outlet, insanity workout, ralph lauren, oakley, babyliss

 
At 11:27 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

doudoune moncler, juicy couture outlet, moncler, thomas sabo, louis vuitton, ray ban, canada goose, links of london, louis vuitton, canada goose, supra shoes, ugg, louis vuitton, swarovski, gucci, vans, canada goose, doke gabbana, moncler outlet, nike air max, marc jacobs, wedding dresses, louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton, moncler, karen millen uk, swarovski crystal, montre pas cher, moncler, canada goose outlet, converse, replica watches, canada goose uk, coach outlet, canada goose outlet, barbour uk, canada goose jackets, ugg pas cher, lancel, canada goose outlet, moncler outlet, juicy couture outlet, pandora jewelry, barbour, moncler uk, hollister, converse outlet, pandora uk, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, moncler, ugg uk

 
At 12:09 AM, Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

zhengjx20160419
fitflop shoes
michael kors purses
rolex watches
nfl jerseys
gucci outlet
louis vuitton outlet
tods sale
basketball shoes
nike air max 90
true religion jeans
coach factorty outlet online
louboutin shoes
toms outlet
coach factorty outlet
michael kors handbags
copy watches
coach outlet online
hollister kids
adidas running shoes
hollister jeans
gucci handbgs
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
replica rolex watches
michael kors outlet online sale
burberry sale
christian louboutin sale
michael kors outlet
kids lebron shoes
adidas superstar
cheap oakley sunglasses
asics running shoes
michael kors bags
ray bans
jordan retro 13
louis vuitton handbags
ralph lauren
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion outlet

 
At 12:42 AM, Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

zhengjx20160419
fitflop shoes
michael kors purses
rolex watches
nfl jerseys
gucci outlet
louis vuitton outlet
tods sale
basketball shoes
nike air max 90
true religion jeans
coach factorty outlet online
louboutin shoes
toms outlet
coach factorty outlet
michael kors handbags
copy watches
coach outlet online
hollister kids
adidas running shoes
hollister jeans
gucci handbgs
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
replica rolex watches
michael kors outlet online sale
burberry sale
christian louboutin sale
michael kors outlet
kids lebron shoes
adidas superstar
cheap oakley sunglasses
asics running shoes
michael kors bags
ray bans
jordan retro 13
louis vuitton handbags
ralph lauren
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion outlet

 
At 6:11 AM, Blogger xjd7410@gmail.com said...

air jordans
cheap jordans
nike nfl jerseys
coach outlet
coach factory outlet
gucci outlet
coach outlet
ray ban
christian louboutin outlet
ray bans
coach outlet store online
gucci outlet
beats headphones
giuseppe zanotti sneakers
louis vuitton outlet
toms
coach factory outlet
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
hollister clothing store
replica watches
toms outlet
tory burch outlet
christian louboutin shoes
nike sb
jordans
michael kors outlet
nike air force
michael kors outlet
coach outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
fitflops sale clearance
hollister clothing
coach outlet
toms shoes
nike air max
ray ban sunglasses
toms outlet
ralph lauren outlet
gucci outlet
2016.7.12haungqin

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger fattoma said...

http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/cleaning-company-al-madina.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/cleaning-villas-and-houses-company-in-yanbu.html

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger roba. gad3 said...

http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/eliminate-cockroaches.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/eliminate-cockroaches-11.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/eliminate-cockroaches-10.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/eliminate-cockroaches-9.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/eliminate-cockroaches-8.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/eliminate-cockroaches-7.html

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger roba. gad said...


Good write-up. I definitely love this site. Keep it up
http://prokr1235.bravesites.com/#builder
https://slashdot.org/~rehabgad/firehose
https://rehabgad.livejournal.com/
West-jeddah.com

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

site hit counter