Monday, June 29, 2009

Checkin' In

For all of those faithful readers of my blog, I just wanted to check in and give you an update as to my whereabouts. It has been quite a while since I last wrote. And it's not all because of the arrival of my little guy. I have been in rainy Maine for the last week and a half for Camp Pitch and Camp Meeting. I've been very busy. And even now I gotta run! But I will be back in the saddle in a week or so.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Life is a Mission Field

I came across these thoughts this morning in my devotional time. I was extremely blessed by the reminder. This is definitely something I need to keep at the forefront of my mind as I think about what life is all about - and what should fill my day.
True education is missionary training. Every son and daughter of God is called to be a missionary; we are called to the service of God and our fellow men; and to fit us for this service should be the object of our eduction. . . .

Let the youth be impressed with the thought that they are not their own. They belong to Christ. They are the purchase of His blood, the claim of His love. They live because He keeps them by His power. Their time, their strength, their capabilities are His, to be developed, to be trained, to be used for Him. . .

God desires them to become all that He has made it possible for them to be, and to do their very best with the powers He has given them. . . .

He desires that we shall constantly be growing in holiness, in happiness, in usefulness. All have capabilities which they must be taught to regard as sacred endowments, to appreciate as the Lord's gifts, and rightly to employ. He desires the youth to cultivate every power of their being, and to bring every faculty into active exercise. He desires them to enjoy all that is useful and precious in this life, to be good and to do good, laying up a heavenly treasure for future life.

It should be their ambition to excel in all things that are unselfish, high, and noble. Let them look to Christ as the pattern after which they are to be fashioned. The holy ambition that He revealed in His life they are to cherish - an ambition to make the world better for their having lived in it. This is the work to which they are called. (Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, pp. 395-398)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

For the Love of . . .

I think it was Big Bird who said, "Everyone . . . is always talking about love." He then promptly added, "Yuck." He was right. Everyone does talk about love.

And rightfully so. What it all boils down to is love. And it's precisely what God requires of us.

Those of us who like to debate theology and promote our beliefs can sometimes forget that. And those of us who like to emphasize overcoming sin and reaching perfection - yours truly included - sometime betray ourselves by neglecting this important component.

I was delighted to read, when I first came across Colossians 3:14, how important love is in the pursuit of perfection. As Paul writes, "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter how I keep the letter of the law to a "T," so long as I am neglecting love. Quite simply: no love, no perfection.

Unfortunately, as often happens, when we get quite zealous about our beliefs, our opinions, our understanding, we can get downright nasty (this, of course, is true of people on either side of the debate - including me). I am not implying, as many seem to suppose, that saying someone is wrong necessarily means you are being unloving towards him or her. But I will admit that there are times when many of us lose the "love" part of perfection. As John McVay asks, "What if victory in theological disputes were judged by the Christlike behavior of the disputants rather than the ferocity of the rhetoric?" He then adds, "And who's to say it isn't?"

I have had a number of people remind me of that all-important principle of love when I am emphasizing the importance of beliefs or doctrines. They are right, of course. In the end, love is what really matters. Christ calls us to love. He says it is non-negotiable.

But let's allow love, as the Bible treats it, to have its full place at the table. Because, as much as the Bible - and specifically Jesus - talks about loving our fellow human beings, we are also invited to love the truth. In fact, loving the truth seems to be an integral part in determining if one is saved or not. The same Paul who writes about the importance of agape love in the pursuit of perfection also informs us that those who are lost will be so "because they did not receive the love [agape] of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thess 2:10). What happens with these people is that, instead of receiving the love of the truth, they are swept away with deception.

Elsewhere, Paul achoes this idea in the great "Love Chapter" when he says that "love . . . rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor 13:6).

So truth - and a love for that truth - does seem to matter to God. And He places a premium on human beings pursuing that truth.

Now, I have had many people tell me - especially recently - that "truth" has its place but, utlimately, it is not going to really matter if we have the correct information or not. After all, there are so many ambiguities in the Bible - which people have argued over for centuries - and God doesn't expect us to have all the right answers. Others have also expressed the sentiment that God is not going to ask us if we "believe in the Trinity," or whether we can "explain the 2300 days accurately" or whatever other particular doctrine they seem to be upset about or unconvinced of.

Maybe not. And maybe God doesn't expect us to have all the answers before we can be translated (then again, maybe He does). But what He does require of us is to at least (a) believe that there is absolute truth and (b) have a love for that truth. Anything less than that will result in us being swept away with deception.

But God doesn't simply expect us to have a love for the truth for truth's sake. This is not an arbitrary requirement He places upon us. He understands that a love for the truth and a love for our fellow man are inseperable. So, no, God may not ask us at the Pearly Gates, "Explain the postlapsarian view of the nature of Christ," but He will be able to tell whether we know the information based on how we act. So, essentially, our beliefs will be reflected in our behavior and how we treat others (and Him). This is why He has such a huge concern for truth - and that we not only have a love for it, but an understanding of it.