Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lifelong faith

You know its going to be a great blog post when we begin with a Yoda quote.

This week I had the privilege to attend our annual West Ohio Conference (WOC) of the United Methodist Church. I wanted to share a thought with everyone on continuing the learning process. The WOC brought a teacher Dr. Thomas Long from the Chandler School of Theology in to teach the entire conference. Dr. Long brought one simple premise to a room full of trained theologians. The four gospels, and what they would look like if they were actual churches. On the outset, it seemed to be far too simple a subject to educate trained professionals. “Really?” “The gospels?” Most Christian pastors spend a majority of their time in the gospels because these are the teachings of the Christ. But, masterfully Dr. Long began to wander down the road of the four churches, leaving even the most well trained theologians in the room teary eyed, and awestruck by the teachings of Jesus. Here’s a brief summary:

The church of Saint Mark: “We do what we can!” God is bigger than we are, is the mighty power in the world, not humankind.

The church of Saint Matthew: “Casting the nets deep.” Christians are not meant to be saved and moved on, but becoming a disciple of Christ is a forming process, and through the power of God, God’s people can become great by His Spirit.

The church of Saint Luke: “The main piece of the building is the fellowship hall.” Luke sees Jesus as the master of a great banquet and all are invited. Luke’s church is open to all people, and no one is refused fellowship with the God of grace.

The church of Saint John…kinda…The House church of Saint John. “Love” Love and people are the focus of John’s church.

Dr. Long taught us in two parts Monday afternoon, and Tuesday Morning. Check Him out along with the whole conference here at:

I have no doubt you will love Dr. Long’s teachings, but that’s not why I have called this blog conversation to order..oops…Sorry, too many days being in session with parliamentary procedure.

The point today is to note that no mater how long you have traveled the road with God and others there is never a point where you are a know it all. If a conference with over 1,000 churches represented can be moved to applause, and tears with a simple teaching on the most basic books of Jesus. That should signify that God is the great teacher and we are all on this journey to know Him better, no matter our time on the Christian journey. 

In college, I had the overly wise roommate who seemed to know, or informed  everyone around that they were the wisest person in the room. This person was always cynical, and never amused by anything, because why find joy when you have mastered the universe? Hanging around this individual was always draining, and everyone always felts undermined, and belittled. No questions could be asked, because our wise all-knowing friends always responded with snarky and mean answers. No ideas where brought about because they were too petty for this wise sage. Are you beginning to understand the environment around this person? Not a very powerful, or positive one. Why? Because, part of the human to God exchange, or, simply part of being on this earth with others is the vulnerability to express growth, and expose ignorance. Ignorance is not a negative concept, it simply states there are things yet, I as finite person do not know. When we travel the road of life surrounded by people who are willing to help us learn, and also let us teach we are growing in unity together. Otherwise, it becomes a tense place where growing cannot is stifled, or worse, belittled. 

“Have you learned all you can know about God, and people?”  If the answer is “Yes” The the appropriate thing to do is of course repent of this lie, and accept the teachings of the prophet Isaiah, who in the 40th chapter declares, “Who can understand God?” Not that God is entirely a mystery, but that all the ways of the Almighty can not be known in a few quick readings of scripture. Or, unpacked in a few quick listening to skilled teachers, or read in lofty academic theology books.  But, God is learned in pieces, movements, and especially in God’s Holy Spirit. Every lesson will lead you one step closer to knowing God and people. But, do not fool yourself into thinking this road will somehow come to an end. Because, the tragedy in life is not that we cannot know all about God and people, but the converse. The tragedy is not enjoy the journey towards God and people. We are called to be curious creations following after our brothers and sisters in the world, whilst trying to find our Heavenly Father and know Him in every facet of His Grace! If we become less sure about our  knowledge, and more sure about the adventure here the seeds of a life long faith are planted. I would like to suggest that as the Christians church we do two things. One, God is working in us and our relationship is growing with every breath of the Holy Spirit, and through every curious creation seeking their Creator. Secondly, we cannot believe the journey can end, because we must know more about God, through The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, because the Triune God deserves to be known.

I am pleading with you in all sincerity, if I as a trained clergy can be renewed by a simple gospel lesson, then you can be renewed in whatever step you need to take in knowing more about God and others. Whether you have never known God through the powerful story of Jesus Christ, or you have been around God for a century. You do not know all God wants you too. You have not mastered God or people. Know this friends the adventure is not in arriving at full knowledge, but chasing after God into the wild unknowns of the world, and the Heavens. Finding new roads, new understanding, new emotions, new lessons. Life is the adventure to know God, and to love people. Will you adventure with me? I will adventure with you!

Strive on my friends, Strive on,

Pastor Richard 

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