We live in a world that is constantly on a pilgrimage, searching and longing for so much more. Yet, as we have attempted to describe in our book Reframation, followers of Jesus struggle to articulate the story of God in a way that brings clarity and understanding to these longings, this world, and our place within it. This inability to recognize and respond aptly is what Walter Brueggemann refers to as a “crisis of interpretation,” a crisis that results in followers of Jesus being robbed of the capacity to speak, to care, and to notice those in the Nevada desert, on a trail in rural Spain, or anywhere in between.
Our driving force, the “why” behind the book, is the deeply held conviction that there is a great need for a reframation that allows us to see God, people, and mission through re/enchanted frames. We want to seriously consider how it is that we tell and live the story of God in the midst of this pervading “crisis of interpretation.”
This is not simply an evangelism problem, nor a “give me a new zappy formula so I might share the gospel” type of discussion. This is not about telling a story designed to get people to “sign up,” but instead to begin to reframe how we see and understand all sorts of pilgrims’ tales. We want to consider what it might look like to enter into the story of God, allowing that good news to personally transform us in such a way that any communication of that story recognizes and addresses the deep longings and hungers of those around us. It is therefore a vibrant story of God that we invite others into—one that literally changes and transforms everything about them and their world.
We want to be able to help followers of Jesus enter into a more authentic dialogue conversations that “deepen the argument of being alive.” We also want to acknowledge our impoverished stewardship of both the good news of Jesus and the rule and reign of God, of which we all share responsibility. Remember, our goal is not to change the story, but rather, to take a picture we have all grown accustomed to, and surround it with a new frame, one that allows us to see the picture afresh. This reframing does not actually change the picture, but it allows for a second thought, and a third. It enables us to see a picture we have too easily defined and contained, siphoning out the breadth of mystery and meaning that every pilgrim on any trail longs to experience.
In the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, John Keating told his students, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. The world looks very different from up here. You don’t believe me? Come see for yourselves.”
In the same way, this reframation that allows us to see God, people, and mission through ever-expansive frames, does not change the picture; it is simply standing on the desk, enabling our perception and perspective to be changed. It is not modifying the meaning; it is bringing out the color, texture, and vibrancy already present. And to do so will require a fresh approach. As the French artist Henri Matisse said, “To look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage.”5
If we are able to consider a reframing of this extraordinary story of good news, we believe the beauty, the mystery, the wonder, and the glory will return, and it will connect and resonate with real human longings and desires.
May we be so courageous.