Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bono, Progress & Joy

Yesterday I happened to be in Philippians, where I was struck afresh by a statement Paul made from prison to these people he loved and to whom he longed to return. People imprisoned are ultimately broken down by being cut off from love and fellowship with others. Paul wrote that he was confident he would be released and be restored to the Philippians so that he could continue to aid their "progress and joy in the faith" (Phil 1.20).

Paul addresses their common life together, including quarrels and disputes they had, and encourages them from his suffering that what they experience in this life has eternal value. But what stood out to me yesterday is from (a rather famous) passage at the end:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What was striking to me was that Paul (at least in part) commands joy. And Paul himself didn't know the surprising ways that God would give the Philippians progress -- it didn't turn out to be through a return visit he made (he was executed eventually, and we have no record of his going back to Philippi). It would be others who would help these people accomplish what he longed for them to experience, even as his teaching them was the foundation.

When I went to see U2 in concert for the Zoo TV tour, I wouldn't have guessed that when Bono sang with a belly dancer in front of him that he meant the song "She moves in mysterious ways" had allusions to the Holy Spirit. But that's what he meant, along with describing a man's experience of a woman, physically and emotionally. Except for calling the Holy Spirit 'she', Paul was pretty much on board with some of this. He knew that the love of God and the goal of life was predictable but not necessarily all the things God leads his people through to get there.

Maybe that accords with your reading of the Bible maybe not, and maybe it accords with your experience --- that life is directed to an end and purpose, but the route is not what we'd expect.

Click here to see a wonderful Comic Relief spot showing the tension in Bono's charitable/political bent versus the band wanting to be a big rock band. Larry Mullen's line when he flips out learning an upcoming tour's proceeds will go to charity was classic: "I was saving up to buy Andorra!"

Kudos to anyone who can get the Easter-themed reference to the flower photo...

No comments: