I have a dolphin theory. I’ve been working through this one for years. It’s a transcendent and significant theory. It goes something like this: God placed within dolphins a special honing device towards interested humans. On early morning coastlines … beach dwellers & soul searchers looking for something beyond themselves (transcendent and significant) … will have dolphins appear within proximity to said humans along the shoreline. Within a sight line of 10 & 2 (just like the steering wheel rule), dolphins appear. Wonderfully. Supernaturally. Graciously.
After about 9 a.m. when the beach gets buzzing with umbrellas and Frisbees and boogie boards, the dolphins disappear. When interest for deeper things wane, the transcendent and significant disappear as well.
John Stott says transcendence and significance are two reasons he’s a Christian. Jesus gives them both. In his book, “Encounters With Jesus” Keller draws out transcendence of Jesus through taken-for-granted Bible stories like the ascension. With Keller’s insightful surgery of scripture, a deeper, personal significance is also a surprising and wonderful result. Keller remains a favorite speaker and author and continues to pastor me from afar.
Andy Stanley is also a great, engaging writer. I’m one hundred pages into his “Deep & Wide.” Stanley would argue transcendence and significance should be found in the church by the unchurched. “Should” is the operative word. So often the church is only for the churched. Stanley unpacks how we inherited our dangerous word “church” from Germans… not Greeks. “Kirche” is not a translation of the Greek, it is a substitution for the Greek “ekklesia” and a bad one at that.” “A kirche is a location. An ekklesia is a purposeful gathering of people. You can lock the doors of a kirche. Not so with the ekklesia of Jesus,” writes Stanley. Transcendence and significance get lost in a kirche. The ekklesia requires it.
One more camp story comes bubbling up… While there was most definitely battles to be fought with broken kids, there was also Matthew, Elizabeth, Sophia, and Jason. One set of twins, a younger, red-headed sister, and a cousin. They were all on my Lemon team. In the middle of obviously hurting kids, these four standouts reflected something of transcendence and significance. It looked good on them.
At one starchy camp meal, we were talking weirdly about Sam’s Club. Not coincidentally, Matthew, Elizabeth, Sophia, and Jason all shared a last name of Sams. None of them had ever been to a Sam’s Club, but they had started their own — club, that is. It was the Uvula Club. And a wonderful story unfolded from there.
Apparently on a a huge, extended family vacation to Yellowstone National Park, an uncle was stricken with a swollen uvula. (it’s that hangy down thingy at the back of your throat) The crisis so overtook the vacation, they wrote a song… “U-V-U, L-A — what’s that spell? UVULA!” And the story just kept getting better as these healthy, wide-eyed, polite, Jesus-reflecting kids gave us keen insights into their family secrets. There was a swing at their Yellowstone cabin they nicknamed the “swollen uvula.” They sang their song and swung from the giant uvula. I was so taken by their excitement, humor, and uvula song, I had to grab the camp microphone and teach the whole camp. We inducted our camp dean into the uvula club because he also had a huge uvula. By the end of the week, the whole camp was singing wild praises of uvulas. Now THAT was funny!
Sherry and I commented about the special something these kids had. Transcendent. Significant. I wanted to meet their parents. At the end of the week when all our goodbyes were flyin’, I did. They were special people who worked hard at raising their kids in love and Jesus. Transcendent. Significance.
It’s who Jesus is. Transcendent. Significant. It’s also what he offers. He’s our advocate. He’s our defender in court. “If you’re lawyer is brillant”, Keller writes, “so are you. If you’re lawyer is an authority, so are you.” He’s your advocate. Whatever he is, you are. Transcendent. Significant. May this be true in my life and in Jesus’ deep and wide church.