“So, Majeski, we're going to see you in the fall, right?”
So said my son Mac's coach at the end of this summer's tackle football camp. Words like these from a coach to your son have an actual physiological affect on you as a dad. Your chest sticks out a little further. Your gait is a little more confident. You don't need to say a word; everything about your demeanor proudly proclaims, "That's my son."
In that moment, your weaknesses fade into the background. Philosophers call this experience "transcendence" and it sure feels good.
Because every person desires to overcome their failures, every culture develops a path to transcendence. Collectively, we determine a way to rise above guilt and sorrow. Together we define what it means to “arrive.” And when someone “arrives,” all that is wrong with them is no longer a defining issue. That’s the idea, anyway.
Which way to transcendence?
But in the same way that no one actually reaches the horizon, no one actually “arrives.” Every human path to transcendence fails because every human is limited by mortality and guilt. So, within a couple hours of Mac's final practice, my weaknesses were front and center again. The path to transcendence marked “Your Child's Achievement” was a dead end. This brings me back to a crossroads – an elaborate crossroads. There are paths in multiple directions but they all promise the same destination. As a resident of Fort Collins for nearly two decades, I am beginning to read the signs above those paths:
- "Outdoor Experience"
- "The Meal and The Beer"
- "Career Success"
- "Environmental Conscience"
Each sign communicates a message that is consistently spoken – sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly – to those of us who call this city their home. You cannot live here and avoid the message: "This way to peace, truth and beauty."
Every path is a lie.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19–20)
This Sunday we begin a series of messages on the New Testament book of Colossians. This letter presents the only lasting path to peace, truth and beauty. And the sign above it reads "Firstborn." In Jesus, the firstborn over all creation, we find all the fullness of God – unrivaled truth and beauty. But the breathtaking treasure of Jesus is that he is not only beautiful but that he has dealt with the guilt and shame that hold us back from enjoying him. He canceled our record of debt and nailed it to the cross.
There is a way out of our frantic, unsatisfying search for transcendence. Let's find it together in Colossians this fall.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1–3)