This week I have met in my reading an individual who has been challenging me in new and unique ways. Rosaria Butterfield was an English professor at Syracuse University. She was a stalwart feminist and defender of gay and lesbian rights. Rosaria met Jesus in the life and witness of a pastor who was willing to sit and discuss her worldview with her. The book is a fascinating read and very well written. There is so much in it that is challenging me, and so much that could be discussed. But perhaps the biggest thing that stands out to me as I work my way through the first half of the book is her discussion of her entrance into the christian world, and the complexities that this process caused.¹
What is all this talk of validity and foundation? What is the big deal? Can’t we just let people believe what they want? Can’t we just stick to what works for us now?
The trouble here is that we think that as long as my ideas work for me right now all is well. The deeper reality is that we long for answers that will last, that will build us up with time, that will stand the test of trials. I would imagine that there is nothing more devastating than watching all that you ever thought to be true crumble and disintegrate. Continue reading
There come times when it seems like the speed of progress in life is turned up a few notches. We face many new horizons. The road gets steeper, exposing new valleys and new peaks. These are times when we are pushed out of autopilot mode and forced to be a bit more conscious of our pace and direction. We can stroll down the road, or we can run it. We can take the road down or the road up. The mountains seem exciting when viewed from far away. But when it comes time for making the ascent, the glory seems to vanish. Aching muscles. Bloody bruises. Burning lungs. Sweat and dirt.
We start to realize that the climb itself is not as glorious as we imagined.
By far, my favorite season of the year is fall. Summer comes to a close, with all its freedoms and adventures. Nature sheds its green coat in a period of glorious golden surrender and gears up for another trek through the winter. Another year comes our way.
It is simultaneously the season of reward and renewal. We reap the fruits of our labors. We look back at our work. We set new directions and begin new chapters. It is a time of vibrant colors, flavors and warm conversations. More than any other time of year, fall seems to be the time that causes me to reflect on the reality of progress and movement in my life.
Progress is something that I think about a great deal. Nothing is more terrible to me than the notion of a wasted life, of wasted opportunities. Here are two mighty lessons I have learned lately on this issue.
There is an ancient teaching called Gnosticism which has, throughout the centuries, constantly sought to wriggle itself into the life of the church. At its essence, the idea is that there is a fundamental division between the spiritual and the physical. The Gnostic believes that he is saved by the possession of special knowledge. The physical world however, along with the body, is fallen and beyond saving or repair.
Many variations of this idea have surfaced and resurfaced in the history of christianity, with each following version tending to be more and more subtle and sneaky. And our day is indeed no exception¹. But how can this be so?? Don’t we live in a day of peak theological growth? Before a false teaching even appears, we already have a good book published on the issue! We have hundreds of sermons, articles, websites and magazines being put out every week defending and defining the Gospel of Jesus!