Go to [the Bible] with an eye only for error and contradiction, grammatical anomalies, historical errors, mistaken data and numbers, and the Bible is big enough for a scholarship only of those things. But go to it with an eye for the life that billows forth in mighty waves in the water course, burst here and there, and you will be rewarded infinitely more. The Bible is a world that should be studied with a telescope rather than a microscope. What a loss it would be to study the stars or the northern lights with a magnifying glass.
– David Nyvall, North Park’s first President, addressing Covenant pastors in 1898
I was at a think-tank of sorts the past two days with some fun people gathered together to discuss how to love mercy and do justice within our church body. There were several great thoughts shared and realizations that I was reminded of, but a few stuck out:
– “Prioritize things based on if they are absolutely critical, if there is a small window of opportunity for success, or if it will help you build early momentum for doing more later on.” -A.Forsman
– “We just need to stop sometimes and repent about our history, about being the rich young ruler, about not wanting to be bothered. No programs, no short cuts, just repent. Like really REPENT.” -G.Yee
– “Compassion and justice ministry isn’t always programmatic. It isn’t always neat and tidy, wrapped up in a box. Sometimes its organic, its fluid, its the Holy Spirit moving and working. And sometimes its messy and it takes time and trust; it isn’t easy to pin down.” -D.Blue
– “In the ECC, we accomplish the most when we root our ministry biblically, call out the best in people, and show evidence of life-change and transformation.” -G.Walter
I had a professor while at Garrett who is a liberation, feminist, Baptist, post-Pentecostal theologian (yes, you read that string of adjectives right). Dr. Nancy Bedford often taught about praxis, the liberation theology-inspired concept that asserts that it is only in practicing, or acting out our faith, can we see its full form and can God truly touch the church. While it’s an over-simplification, Pietism’s emphasis on faithful living from ‘true believers’ has a similar feel to me as liberation theology’s call to praxis. Bedford talked a lot about making small moves, taking small actions, that helped us become more faithful and more Christ-like. An article that she wrote explains this better then I ever could; but the short explanation of what she is pointing toward, and what I got out of this concept, is good for me to remember.
“If we remember those times and places -and there are so many- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us,is itself a marvelous victory.” –Howard Zinn
Acting, even if imperfectly, changes things. If nothing else, it changes us. Faith has more to do with trying, with starting in some direction, with listening and forgiving and trusting and taking the first step – then it does with always being right.
Acting is not meant to be the end all – or reduce our life to being practical instead of thoughtful. But maybe it is a good balance for all of us who have ever over-thought, over-analyzed, or perfectionistically waited for … something more. Little moves against brokenness – little moves toward Christ.
I like that.