Faith, Hope, and Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

During a conversation with Elizabeth, I said, “One of my favorite things I learned at DTS…” which, to be honest, I say about almost everything.  If I’m thinking about it, it’s my favorite!  Anyway, during this particular conversation, I said, “You know that verse about faith, hope, and love, but love is like, the best of them all?”

“The greatest of these is love?” Elizabeth asked.

“Yes, thank you.  I promise I went to seminary.”   Continue reading

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A Fully Realized Christian Hope Counteracts the Cynicism of Postmodernism and Legalism

I grew up in two worlds: the postmodern culture of my public education and the isolationist culture of my church. Although I was not consciously aware of the secular culture in which I grew up, it influenced me all the same, both implicitly shaping me and as I explicitly reacted against it. On the positive side, postmodernism taught me to value individual experiences and to look on the world with wonder at the multitudes of cultures and belief systems around the world. On the negative side, I internalized a belief that I could never fully be sure of anything. This applied to friendships, family members, and truth. I became a cynical person who doubted people’s love and wondered if I had any purpose in life. Although I was a loud-and-proud Christian at my public school, the theology I parroted rarely took root on an emotional level to counteract these fears.

In fact, although my church tried to offer hope in the face of a “sinful” culture, the theology I learned only exacerbated the loneliness and detachment of postmodernism.  I was taught a theology that was centered upon the cross in hope of a future in heaven. I learned about the depth of love Jesus had for us by dying a horrific death in atonement for our sins. I had a guilt-based relationship with God in which I feared every new sin I committed would crucify Jesus all over again. The only hope, I believed, was in heaven. This world was entirely awful, and I certainly was not capable of making things better. Therefore, I looked forward to the day when I would be dead and blissfully happy in heaven, a nebulous place of whites and golds where I knew my sin-stained self would be able to see Jesus face-to-face. Continue reading

Leaving Friends

During my last semester in college, I shrank away from friends and became an almost-recluse.  I was anticipating leaving the people I loved, and the fearful part of myself thought it would hurt less if I left them emotionally before I left them physically.  Thankfully, my best friend called me out on my actions and made me aware of the fact that, although it might help me, it was hurting her.

In the last ten years, I have moved five times (I’m jumping forward to include my move to Greece in a few months).  Each time I left people that I loved deeply and considered family.  There is still a part of me that wants to avoid getting close to people for fear of inevitably being separated.  But I’ve learned that there is a particular kind of bravery that allows a person to keep opening their heart to joy and pain.  I’ve learned that I want to fling myself into loving people, experiencing the heights of friendships and depths of loneliness.  Continue reading

Holy Week

I often forget to celebrate Holy Week.  Sometimes this is for amazing reasons–like a visiting friend who brings me so much joy.  Sometimes this is for dumb reasons–like being anxious about the future and how to make hard decisions.  And I think God is patient with me, understanding my distractions, waiting for me to realize the gift He’s given the Church in walking through Holy Week year after year after year.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Christ as humble King, entering the city not on a military horse but on a plodding donkey.  At my church, we walked down the aisle with palm branches, laid them on the alter, and took Communion from our elders.  We were encouraged to symbolically lay down something along with the palm branch, and I gave up control.  Or rather, for one moment I gave up control, hoping that God would honor that fleeting moment of trust and see my heart that is scared and doubtful but so desperate to lean on Him.  Then I took the bread and the wine, looking back at what Jesus did for the world so that I can look forward to what He will do when He returns.  In all this, Christ is King.  He is in control.  Continue reading

There’s Some Good in This World, and It’s Worth Fighting For

I cannot watch this scene from The Two Towers without crying.  It has become my inspiration and motivation as I prepare for Greece.  Saying that, I immediately feel dumb, because who am I to compare my decision with the epic quest of Frodo and Sam?  But perhaps my feelings of insignificance are exactly what qualify me as a hobbit.  Continue reading

Hope in Lord of the Rings

When I was in seventh grade, my older brother invited me to see The Fellowship of the Ring on opening night with a group of his friends.  They invited one other younger sibling in an attempt to set us up.  I did fall in love that night, but not with the other seventh grader.  My heart was 100% stolen by the beauty and power of The Lord of the RingsContinue reading

Hope in a Hurting World

I am in my last semester of seminary, and I purposefully left my eschatology theology class until the end.  That’s fitting, right, since eschatology is the study of the end times?  My motivation, however, was more than a desire to make a (not so) clever joke.  As I prepare to go to Greece and work with women who have been trafficked, I knew I need a solid grasp on what my faith says about ultimate redemption and restoration.  My favorite professor at Union University said of Revelation, “The only message you must take away from Revelation is:  God wins.”  Anticipating this semester, I knew I needed a refresher on the hope that is found in eschatology.  Continue reading