The Imaginary Obstacle of Measuring Up

That’s the second-to-last track on my friend John Daniel’s album. Listen here. Stewing in this peaceful ambient drone and contemplating this title, I’ve come up with a few thoughts.

Measuring up is an obstacle; and for those of us who are trusting Christ, it is imaginary. Those around us may live under the weight of Eden ruined—under the wreckage of what was once the Garden. But we don’t. Sometimes we choose to, when we forget Christ; but we don’t have to.

Might makes right, and political power comes from the barrel of a gun. When you pare away the bureaucracy and the democracy and even the theocracy, there’s nothing more to it. When I hop over the broken fence and wander down to the shores of Lake Rockwell to write, I’m hurting no one. I could be arrested, sure; but there is no metaphysical superiority in that act of arrest. There is only a superiority of power. I am not displeasing God when I sit on the shore of his beautiful and forsaken wilderness and write a story about his redemption; I’m displeasing only those who fear that I will pee in the Akron water supply. I would never do that. Fundamentally, what they don’t know won’t hurt them or anyone else.

Those who pretend to hold power over us exploit our most basic ruin—the Edenic fear of a God scorned. They have only that power which we give them, a power in proportion to the lack of our faith in Christ. This is perhaps what Paul means by freedom in Christ.

Now, don’t go complaining. This is not some flippant anarchism or Jesus-meets-revolution, man. Rather, it’s a call to change our perspective. Doing what The Man tells us to do is still a viable part of the Christian’s calling—but it must be out of love for the person (sometimes a friend, sometimes a stranger) who would be damaged by our neglect. It must never be out of fear of what The Man will do to us. Because fundamentally, The Man, our unworthiness, and the obstacle of measuring up are illusory if we are trusting Christ.