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Fool's errands

It's early and I'm already back on Capitol Hill, trying to hunt down and/or remember where I put a set of keys I'll need Sunday. It's one of the classic cases when I remember doing something specific with them for exactly this reason, but I'm at a loss as to what that something was. I did, however, figure the trip would give me a chance to have an old-fashioned morning at Victrola, so here I am. Irwin's can wait until tomorrow.

Update: Keys are now in my possession.

Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is.

—Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope

We often speaking from places of pain, regardless of how impassioned or dispassionate the voices we adopt may be. We are each masters of rationalization—it's a necessary skill for navigating our world, but also serves as an excellent defense against what threatens our sensibilities and comfort. So we have millions of debates about thousands of issues, and very little of it is what we're really talking about at all.

That gets on my nerves, because it so often reeks of bullshit in my nostrils. On my worst days, I respond to it with anger. On better days, I filter as best I can, choosing to ignore some of those voices and letting them rant on to their hearts' (dis)content. And on my best days (which have been shamefully few), I listen for the pain.

I want God to cultivate a heart in me that's both honest about my pain and listens for others', a heart that doesn't stop there but actually brings those needs before the Father, then responds with the leading and power of the Spirit. Part of that will mean recognizing that it's not my place to take on or respond to everything I can see—God is infinite; I am not. He can be trusted with my life and the lives of others. The other part will mean recognizing that things are not supposed to be this way, not settling for a good wallow as if it were the same thing as redemption and healing.

A friend recently visited a seminary to investigate the possibility of furthering her education there. When she asked where the student body worshipped, the staffer replied, "Our students have hurts. Most of them aren't a part of any church." She walked away deeply concerned, and rightly so. That response indicates an underlying belief that pain is sovereign, not God. Comfort in such a world, even when it is plentiful, is also temporal, and the hunger for it will never be satisfied.

Christ came to heal and redeem, and while we who believe must accept that much of this will not be realized on this side of the resurrection, we are also called to believe that He is active here and now. And He's not active in some abstract, ethereal, and individual sense—He is at work in and through His body, the Church. The God of the Bible has always simultaneously worked for and through a community, a people of His choosing. He still does. They are as flawed and in need of grace as ever, but His Spirit abides with them.

Can He be trusted? Or will we trust our pain instead?


I'm reading "The Problem of Pain" right now--slowly and in between diaper changes :D Anyway, he talks about how pain is inevitable, given the necessity for a consistent environment for us all to interact in.
wow...definitely bookmarking that entry
They are as flawed and in need of grace as ever, but His Spirit abides with them.

what a beautiful confidence - that He'll finish what He started in us. :o]
Thanks for this...it really spoke to me. I'm a "fixer." That's what I do so instead of going to the Lord first and waiting for the Spirit to lead me, I try to "fix" the problem.

I would also like to commend you on two things:
1. You did NOT use the word "IRregardless"...
2. You cosistently use apostrophes correctly...
He would also spell 'consistently' correctly if given the opportunity ;)
Shoot! I can't do everything right!
Me either. Thank goodness we don't have to :D
That's the English minor coming into play.

Now I'm thinking

The appropriate response to pain is thankfulness, right? Don't ask me what verses support that, but there does seem to be a theme. Anyway, maybe thankfulness is the appropriate response because if we can be thankful for our troubles it means we're seeing "reality" for real. I know people who have constructed their own realities inside their heads--some are more, or less, submerged in their realities, but they all have in common the inability to rightly relate to their pain. I frequently worry about the realities I have constructed for myself because I want to see clearly.

I think it's okay to lament our pain on occasion, as long as it's within the context of realizing that our afflictions are 'light and transitory' (Paul said something like that, right?) and as long as we don't make it a habit. We also have to remember that some days we are stronger to bear up under it... and some days we are weaker.

Re: Now I'm thinking

Your second paragraph is one of the reasons I believe connection with the church is essential. We must function as a body, bearing one another's burdens and encouraging one another to press on toward the goal—essentially, preaching the gospel to each other.

I'm not sure any of us can always be thankful in pain, at least not immediately. But we can choose where we go with it—to the God of all grace or away from Him. If we go to Him, we have to accept His authority. He is the Author, the one who defines what is real and what isn't. That's hard for many of us to give up, because making ourselves the authors of our smaller stories is how most of us have chosen to cope with our pain.
Pain or no pain, I'm puzzled about why students are in seminary if they don't feel worship should be a part of their lives? Why would you want to learn about GOd second hand only?
Honestly, I'd be very surprised if the students themselves saw it that way. I suspect many have separated worship and the church from one another, and the church may also be somehow reimagined to mean the communities we choose rather than the community He has chosen.

If that's where they are, they're far from alone—many Western Christians imagine there's some way to follow Jesus outside of the church. You'd have to ignore a lot of Scripture to believe this, however, just as you'd have to ignore a lot to redefine God's people as the people we pick for ourselves.

It was likely an off-the-cuff statement, but one based on bad ecclesiology, and thus, bad theology. People who hurt should be allowed to keep themselves distant from the body of Christ in order to heal? By what power, then, would healing be expected to happen? It puzzles me as well.
Maybe that's where I'm disconnecting. They're choosing to enter the man-made construct of a seminary, yet at the same time they're choosing to ignore the biblical construct that God laid out. It doesn't make sense to me, but I think you're right in that the thinking is different for them. I'm curious about what the seminary is teaching them about church and worship ... and if they're choosing to ignore that also?

As for their hurts ... God never promised that He'd be a steamroller on the road of life ... nor a candy/medicine dispensing machine. If that's what they're expecting, then all of life is going to be a big disappointment to them. And they're going to miss out on the richness of a 3-dimensional relationship with their Creator.

I think this is symptomatic of the ideas today's Christians have about their relationship with Christ. And I think it's a result of the watered-down Gospel that's being presented today. We're being told that we can have Christ's salvation and presence in our lives without any mention of his Lordship ... even though Romans 10:9 states that they're part and parcel of the same package. I realize it's not an easy package to accept though. No one likes relinquishing control to another ... even when we've botched the job badly. And I've come to understand just how much of a struggle this is ... because I've come to realize how consistently I fail at it. But we can at least work at it ... which is what I'm not seeing in this scenario.