Tuesday, September 6, 2005

A revealing Saturday

I am a prideful man. While I was at MSU, the Spirit (the Holy one, not Johnny) showed me this in several ways:

(1) First of all, while I was talking with one Ryan Hover about our summers, somehow we ended up on the topic of regeneration, namely, does it effect faith, or does faith effect it? Naturally, after spending two years reading Piper, Edwards, Owen, Luther, and others, there was no question: rebirth by the Holy Spirit precedes and effects repentance and faith. But after a lengthy conversation about this, I learned that, while I still hold my position, I am (a) very self-assured that I know it all and cannot possibly be wrong, and (b) that I really don't know the Bible as well as I thought I did.

In a similar vein, I found myself quite openly critical of Rob Bell's new book,
Velvet Elvis. (No, I don't know where the title comes from, either.) From the little I've read--and that's the problem, I just skimmed it and made some rather incisive remarks--he is fairly wacked in his theology at some points. (Sorry, Rob. You're not Jesus nor a reformer a la Martin Luther, and Jesus is indeed making exclusive statements of himself in John 8.24 and 14.6 that have reference to eternal destinies, not just "unlocking deeper realities.") But once again I saw that I think I know it all and that I can confidently pass judgment on something or someone without actually knowing a whole lot about my own convictions nor those that seemingly stand contrary to mine.

(2) Instead of humbly accepting that I deserved the $30 ticket for parking in a one-hour zone for fourteen hours, I got really ticked off and vowed to never pay the ticket. How could
I possibly deserve a ticket? Romans 13.1-7, anyone?

(3) I went back to Riverview, the church I had attended for two years while at MSU. I have openly criticized this church for trying too hard to be catchy and attractive through coffee, rock music, and entertaining sermons. Some of that may hold true. But after hearing Noel, a pastor there, speak on the parable of the shrewd manager recorded in Luke 16.1-13, my views began to change. What I saw as a cowardly, worldly way of enticing people to come to their church is actually their honest efforts at being shrewd and wise in the way they manage the resources entrusted to them. I don't agree with everything they're doing, but what I learned is that they're not out to be catchy; they're out to bring people to Jesus Christ. Just because someone's philosophy isn't mine doesn't automatically make it wrong. I thought I had this church thing all figured out. Guess again.

(4) The night wrapped up with a long talk with some of the men whom I love. In the process, I came to the realization that in this life, the fact is that people are going to come and go in and out of our lives. Mike's in Texas. Cassie's in Washington. Ryan's in Thailand. Greg's married and in seminary. Erin's in GR. I'm in Asia Minor. Things on Earth don't stay the same, so what am I to do? I absolutely dread being lonely; it's one of my greatest fears and tempts me often to pity myself rather than to do something about it. It struck me that because a given person may only be directly in my life for a period of months or years, the question I should ask myself each day is, How can I bless this person so that he will be better off for having had me in his life?

As soon as this clicked in my head, I said this to everyone--and promptly realized that what I said I should be thinking and doing is the furthest thing from what actually happens in my life. Instead, I get upset when people don't make an effort to seek me out and care about me. Then I just get grumpy and spiteful or mopey and despairing, neither of which are honoring to God's omnipresence and call to give myself away. "If anyone is thirsty . . . out of his innermost being will flow . . ."

By the way, after a series of awesome sermons on the "I am" statements of Jesus, it's really cool to see how Jesus uses the Feast of Tabernacles to illustrate that all things Israel celebrated about Yahweh in the feast (Exodus 13 - 17), in actuality, find their truest essence in him.


Cassie said...

Wow Drew. Way to put a girl in her place. I can't believe I've wasted so much time complaining about being out here alone! Thanks for sharing as always.

isay said...

hi Drew. bloghopping here and you've got very interesting entries here. may have to come back and read more.
Cheers from Australia!

John said...

Hey Drew - I am glad to be able to access this page again (for some reason it was not coming up here) and to here you are doing well. Series of sermons on the I AM statements of Christ - was that at Riv? (I used to attend there too, for a couple years, and left for the very same reasons)...
Check out the series of I AM sermons by Rev Kev at http://www.urc-msu.org/, recent sermons. He started a series a few weeks back and has a few to go.
Take care, youre in our prayers...