Lent: Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance.  It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days (Luke 4:1-13).  I have suggested Take a Walk on the Wild Side as a theme for this year’s observation of Lent at South Church.  This could mean confronting the wild world around us, a world filled with both dark foreboding and temptation.  But could it also mean claiming the wild, untethered, fierce power of our faith in Jesus Christ?

This leads to my questions.  What does the word wild mean to you.  Specifically, does wild have positive or negative connotations.  Is wild only associated with the fearsome, out of control forces of nature (a flooding river, lust) that need to be ordered and controlled?  Or is there also an understanding of  wild that communicates freedom?  If so, does such wild freedom lead only to sin and suffering, or can there be something holy in it or from it?  Is God wild?  If so, when God is wild, does suffering result (e.g., the earthquake in Haiti), or can there also be goodness in God’s wildness?  Your thoughts?

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 2:46 am  Comments (6)  
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  1. To me Wild is something new, adventurous, bold and daring. Something you have to step out of your comfort zone to do. That is exactly what lent is meant to do…shake us out of our comfort zone.

  2. I’ll respond to the question I find most intriguing: Is God wild? Dictionary dot com lists synonyms of “wild” as: undomesticated, untamed, unbroken, ferocious, barbarian, savage, tempestuous, stormy, frenzied, turbulent, boisterous, insane, self-willed, riotous, unrestrained, wayward, uncontrollable, reckless, rash, extravagant, impracticable, grotesque, bizarre, strange, fanciful, and unkempt.

    There is only one antonym listed for “wild”: tame.

    Nothing exists that isn’t a part of God. And, since we were created in His image, then He must possess all of these “wild” attributes as well. But, maybe the synonyms above aren’t just what God is, but also, how He reacts. God doesn’t create suffering, which any of the synonyms above might represent; we do (compliments of Adam and Eve). God does not violate our free-will so we have all the room we need to screw things up. But, since we are going to sin anyway, He might as well use all of our actions, good and bad, to accomplish His will.

    But, God is also holy love and moral perfection (tame, perhaps?). He is so perfect in His love and grace and goodness that His eyes are just too pure to look upon evil. This perfect holiness separates Him from sin and, therefore, from us. Holy love and sin are simply incompatible. Maybe the “wild” part of God, then, is his holy reaction to sin, or his wrath (insert any of the synonyms above). This wrath may not necessarily be a part of his essential nature, but perhaps a function of His holiness against sin. He must confront sin with wrath. Because His holiness is so pure, He cannot tolerate transgressions or evil without responding. Kind of like a knee-jerk reaction.

    The power of opposites might also inextricably link God’s wrath, or “wild side,” with salvation. If there is no wrath, there is nothing to save us from. And, where there is no sin, there is no wrath. But, there is always His holiness. Luckily, through Christ’s death, we are spared from God’s wrath and are given salvation.

  3. There’s a lot to think about there, Tracy. My American Heritage Dictionary lists as the first definition of wild: Occurring, growing, or living in a natural state. So by this definition God is always wild, always occurring and living in a natural state.

    Of all the synonyms you list, the one that jumped out at me is extravagant, another good descriptor of God.

    So one question would be, what does it mean for humans to grow and live in our natural state? God created us in God’s image and called us good. So did God create us wild? Could we say that Adam and Eve forfeited their natural state (wild with God) by trying to impose their human will, consciously control their lives. Maybe God calls us to be wild, to let go back into our natural state with the divine.

  4. The first definition in my Webster’s Collegiate is very similar: living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated. Nature is defined as everything in existence without mankind. During the act of creation, God didn’t place Adam and Eve in an ornate palace or stately mansion. He placed them in a beautiful garden (nature). All they had to do was take care of the garden, submit to God’s will, and experience the joy of their innocence

    God designed a simple order by which Adam and Eve were to live: God was the creator, they were the creation. God was the source of everything, they were to be dependent on that source. God provided, they were to receive. God controlled the world, they were to control themselves. God judged life (knowing good from evil), they were to experience life (being good without knowledge of it), God established the rules, they were to live by them. I think this is what it means for us to grow and live in our natural state.

    When Adam and Eve rebelled against God and tried to assume His role, that order was reversed. They forfeited their natural state. They became independent, began trying to control things that were not theirs to control, judged themselves and others, rewrote the rules God designed for them, and began living according to their own will. Basically, they tried to become what they could never become (God), and in the process lost the only thing they could ever be, which were their true selves. As a result, they lost relationship with God and they lost relationship with each other. They began seeking life apart from God. I think Paul expresses so beautifully in his response to “The Brewing of Soma” some of the painful and tragic consequences we face today by living life separate from God.

    Is God calling us back to the “wild?” Absolutely (and thankfully!). He’s giving us that chance through redemption. Getting back into relationship with God means returning to our complete dependence on Him, giving up control over things that are not for us to control, no longer judging ourselves and others, abandoning the rules we’ve created for ourselves, and returning to the way God designed us to live. This is the spiritual growth we should be striving for. This is the spiritual journey I, personally, am on. This will return us to our natural or “wild” state and will put God’s original plan back to the way it is supposed to be.

  5. Sweet! Nicely put, and I love the way you brought Paul’s reflection on Soma.

  6. If JESUS (EMMANUAL-GOD with us.)died on the cross to forgive me for my sins,then why do I come to your church and you lead me(and everyone) in a prayer to the LORD to forgive me from my sins,when it was “finished”(payed for”)on the cross? This holds people in UNBELIEF,that the finished work of the cross is not enough and I need to “work” my way to heaven,when paul clearly states “it is a FREE gift from the LORD,lest any man should boast.” And he also says “stand fast in the LIBERTY (that’s called freedom,folks) which is given you.” And once again,”blasphemey of the HOLY SPIRT is the unforgiveable sin,all others may be forgiven”,directly from the Lord’s lips,recorded by the disiples. This leads into other questions of what the “traditions of men” are teaching us,would you not agree? Now isn’t that “wild”? I certainly think it is!

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