Posts Tagged ‘love’

Learning

December 6, 2009

So it’s the end of my first full semester of seminary at Princeton Theological Seminary.  It has gone by much too fast.  I wish I could slow things down a bit.  There is so much pressure to learn things quickly.  This works if you are not trying to learn things in depth and connect information, but such is not the case with me.  I am learning that connections are very important to me.  And I have never said it quite that way before I let my fingers do the talking.  It seems to me that learning is a very personal thing.  Personal in that it should not be…institutionalized.  And yet that is exactly what we have done.  In learning and in worshiping.  Putting boundaries around things in the attempt to organize things and make them easier to understand.  And yet the opposite is accomplished.  We understand less because we sever the links.  Can you really truly only talk about “Christian History” without at the same time talk about theology, Christology,  soteriology, philosophy, politics, economics, and …?  So why do we do this?  To try and measure someone’s intelligence and ability to learn and understand?  As if a letter grade can really capture the essence of understanding.  I feel institutionalized education merely provides us lessons in…how to play the game.  That’s the only way I can think of it at this point.  But the first and second verses in 1 Corinthians 13 takes on new meaning for me here:

If I speak in Greek and Hebrew…and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge but have not love, I am nothing.

My point here is not about love, as wonderful as love is, but rather that knowledge is not power, contrary to the popular sentiment.  If there is any truth in this statement it is merely because we–society, humanity–have granted power to those who seem to be knowledgeable so we don’t have to rely on the Spirit to lead and guide as we discern what God would have us do.  At this point my thoughts are jumbled, but I assure you this thread has not run out but is weaving an afghan in my left cerebral hemisphere which now that I think of it, that very well might be the cause of my sinus problems.

Alas, I must translate some more Greek.

Truth Telling

April 3, 2009

I love truth.  Well, at least most of the time.  Sometimes I deceive myself, as we all do at various points in our lives, to avoid facing something that I don’t want to deal with.  When I am talking with someone about something, anything, whether it be the price of tea in China or something going on in their lives, I am often compelled to tell them the truth, as I see it, about the subject or situation.  This is a good thing in one respect because it seems that I have been given a gift that allows me to “put words on things” in ways others cannot.  And it is neat to see how God has used those words to help others with things they are wrestling with.  In other ways, my “truth-telling” is not so great.  First of all, as I said a few sentences ago, I tell them the truth as I see it.  Well……needless to say, the truth as I see it isn’t always the truth.  Shocker, I know.  As insightful as my words and thoughts may be, I view the world through my culture, my life experiences, my age, my education, and my hurts.

I was talking with a new friend recently about some things that allowed me to see that some of the people in my life were purposefully not givng me their personal opinion on things in order to allow me space to wrestle with the ideas I was telling them.  I often wondered why and was frustrated by the fact that it seemed they weren’t responding or dialoging with me.  And now I can see that they were loving me each and every time and allowing me to be right where I was with whatevere issue or thought or life experience I was talking about.  It’s mind blowing really.  I’m not trying to make it seem like I am painting these people perfect, but as I look back, I can see that there were multiple times these folks died to themselves in order to encourage, edify, and validate me just as I was at the time.  These people are smart and they have a significant amount of life experience and could have spoken to any of the things I said.  But many times, they kept their thoughts to themselves.  They held on to them.  And I feel as though I have eyes to see ears to hear a different dynamic of relationships with people.  And I am humbled really.  While there were times I thought I was possibly getting apathy or disinterest, it really wasn’t that at all.  It was love.

Today during my lunch break, I read today’s entry in a daily devotional book I have called The One Year Daily Grind.  A few of my past posts have been about entries from this book.  It’s not your typical devotional and today the woman who wrote it (Sarah Arthur) included a poem that she wrote after getting a ride home from college with an aquaintance and some of her friends.  The conversation was mostly about boys and at least one of the girls smoked so Sarah was miserable.  Here is the poem:

Jesus, you encountered the cigarette smoke
of your people’s self-destruction
and traveled long distances
as they talked and talked
about themselves and their boyfriends
and their messed up lives.
You listened.
You didn’t filter their hearts
through the tar
or their words
through the slang or crass language
but listened
carefully–full of care–
and through it all,
you heard their hearts crying out
for the grace to somehow stand
in the presence of him who sees all
and hears all
and knows all

and still loves.

Gracious and Loving God, I am humbled at the way You and those You have placed in my life have ministered to me.  I am in awe of the deep love that I now see in the actions of those who have sought to encourage and validate me.  And I am convicted to be more like that.  Please, Lord, now that you have given me eyes to see and ears to hear, help me listen more and speak less.  Help me to love people right where they are when I interact with them.  Help me to rely on You and Your Holy Spirit to discern when I should speak my thoughts and opinions and when I should die to self.  Help me to love purely as Jesus did.  Speaking truth as led and saying nothing when You ask me to.  Thank you once again for your unmeasureable patience and for listening carefully–and full of care–to the busyness of my heart that was not still before you.  And thank you for those you have placed in my life that immitate You in this way.  In the name of the One who spoke no words when everyone else would have.  Amen.

Perfect Love

February 24, 2009

Holiness is something that I have heard about since I became a Christian at age 13.  It seemed impossible to fully understand, but yet I learned early on it was something a Christian should strive for. 

Be holy as I am holy. (Lev 11.44, as quoted in 1 Peter 1.16).

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12.14)

Okay…so I am to “be holy.”  Anyone else wondered what exactly that means?  I know that I was brought up in my Christian faith to believe it was something akin to perfection in word and deed as a reflection of a heart towards God.  Sounds good right?  But while there might be some truth there I think it is slightly skewed and causes us to become self righteous individuals who attempt to earn God’s grace and acceptance (that we already have mind you). 

So what is it?

I went to dinner with some friends last night to celebrate my acceptance to Princeton.  I had a lovely dinner and the conversation was scattered across the board.  We talked about movies, books, reform theology, and hell.  And from the discussion of hell we somehow ended up touching on the holiness of God.  I got a little riled up (no surprise there) and spoke against the perfectionism that I had served for so long.  The definition of holiness came out as “one who is set apart” and I thought how can God be set apart?  As I write this I am thinking maybe it could be that God is set apart from all the little ‘g’ gods.  But then a friend of mine said something about love.  And a connection took place in my brain. 

Could it be that a call to holiness is a call to love as God loves?

Could it be that holiness is to love perfectly

What do you think?

Our

February 17, 2009

 Pray, then, in this way:Photo by: Ms. Tea
          Our Father who is in heaven,
          Hallowed be Your name. 
          Your kingdom come
          Your will be done,
          On earth as it is in heaven.
          Give us this day our daily bread.
          And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
          And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
          [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] 
                    (Jesus, Matthew 6.9-13)

Let me start this post off by saying that I love the Lord’s Prayer.  my favorite part, by far, is “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  How amazing.  I could talk about that here, but that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about the words

OUR and US.

Have you ever noticed how many times these words are used in this prayer?

OUR = 4

US = 4

I didn’t realize this until I read Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution.  It is mind boggling to me that I have never heard it before.  He writes about how if there was a food shortage in early Christian communities the whole community would fast until there was enough for all.  And then he moves on to the “ours” in the Lord’s Prayer and says,

To pray for “my” daily bread is a desecration; we are to pray for “our” daily bread, for all of us.*

This is envigorating!  And yet it makes me hang my head in shame.  It makes me hopeful!  And yet I am saddened by how far we are from this.

OUR.  Give us this day our daily bread.   And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6.11-13)

UNITY.   “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “ (Jesus, John 17.20-23)

LOVE.  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

* Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 170.

So…

February 16, 2009

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13.2-5)

Life has been a treasure trove of golden nuggets from God lately. I have been scribbling things down for the fast two weeks or so thinking, “This would be a great blog post!” That’s where my previous post came from and that’s where this one came from. While my previous post focused on the foot washing itself and proposed a modern day equivalent, I will now write about the prologue to the foot washing. We have a great picture here…Jesus is eating the evening Passover meal with his disciples. We learn that Judas has been prompted by the devil to betray Jesus, and then we read on through verses 3 and 4 to get the verse 5 where Jesus starts washing feet. But I think that is a case of putting the “emPHAsis on the wrong syLAble.” Language is funny in that sometimes phrases that are inserted to provide clarity can sometimes distract us from the focus of the sentence. I think this is what is happening here. Let’s take another look at these verses while temporarily setting aside a few parts.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power…

SO

he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.

Wow.

What I take away from this is not that Jesus set aside his power and chose to wash his disciples feet. No, rather

Jesus <i><b>knew</b></i> full well his position as well as the power and authority that came with it

and it was <i><b>this</b></i> that moved him or caused him to serve.

Power led to service.

Authority led to humility.

Lordship led to love.

Oh, the tragedy that the world lives the antithesis of this.

Oh, the heartbreak that the church often does too.