Welcome to the 500th post on the Living as Apprentices blog! I invite you to browse through the blog categories listed on the Home Page to check out some of the older posts. Or go to The “Best of” the Living as Apprentices Blog Page, also on the home page, for a sampling of some of my personal favorites.
According to the Design Issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, a new theme can be found in the world of design: “open-endedness.” Michael Rock, co-founder and creative director at the design firm 2 x 4 writes about “the shift of focus from finished object to something ‘non finito’-(unfinished) and reminds us that something that is unfinished or incomplete “befuddles our desire for simple endings.” He goes on to say that in the design world the work is “never done” . . . . and that the acknowledgement of that is a “death knell for something we used to call closure.”
In another article in the issue, Yves Behar, founder of the product and brand design firm Fuseproject, also emphasizes that “design is never done: The value of design grows over time. Companies that succeed are ones that constantly refine their products, experiences, and offerings.”
Apparently, the design world has caught up with something that Scripture has taught for thousands of years: we are never done growing and changing. There is no such thing as “closure” in the Christian life. We are meant to continue transforming and being refined in this world, and perhaps in the next.
The fact that art and design is seen as open ended and never finished is described in these articles as “disruptive.” (“Disruptive” is a word also touted frequently by the billionaire investors on the popular TV show Shark Tank, who see more money making possibilities in businesses that disrupt the status quo.)
Spiritual formation is also seen by some Christians as disruptive. To say that we need to be continually transformed and conformed to the image of Christ disrupts the view that following Jesus is simply a matter of choosing to believe that Jesus is our Savior. It disrupts the self-satisfaction that happens when Christians cling to the safety of unexamined beliefs and self-serving judgments. One reading of the New Testament should teach us that even if we have heard and responded to the “Come and see” call from Jesus, we must continually examine our motives, change our behaviors, and chip away at our addiction to self-righteousness. We must always look ahead to see what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us.
The death knell to vital, explosive, and disruptive Christianity is “simple endings” and “closure.” Our God is a creative force who is con- stantly in the process of de-signing us to be new creatures. To use James Bryan Smith’s analogy, if we choose to remain “worms with wings” instead of breaking free to become gorgeous, free-flying butterflies, we create obstacles to the Great Designer’s imagination and power. And we stand in the way of the world’s seeing Jesus’s “open-ended” (what could be more open-ended than dying and coming to life again?) example of life at its fullest.