One of the questions that the COVID epidemic has provoked in me is: “What am I missing?” After a Christian journey that has continued for 53 years, including 38 years of ministry, what could I be blind to? John Calvin wrote that Scripture is the lens by which I see the world, but I worry that I have looked through the lenses with sideways vision, maybe believing I have seen it all. Enter COVID, political turmoil, struggling churches, bursts of new energy and I wonder what, because of comfort and habit, have I missed. Learning about technology is learning a new way to see the world. I still like going to the hardware store and wouldn’t know Amazon sold hardware if my family didn’t point this out to me. (I plan to still visit the hardware store.) And what is this Netflix thing?
Recently I completed a course on cultural intelligence and realized I am really a Northern European, stubborn, old cuss who idolizes self-sufficiency. But I am committed to continue reading and listening. I have finished Catherine Parr’s 1546 work, “The Lamentation of a Sinner”. I am re-reading Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle”. I have about finished “Sacred Overlap” by JR Briggs. I am reading “The Pastor in a Secular Age” by Andrew Root. On my reading list is Alice Matthews’ (who taught with Haddon Robinson) “Gender Roles and the People of God” and Wheaton New Testament professor Esau Macauly’s “Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope”. On back order is Leonard Sweet’s and Mike Beck’s book from Fresh Expression “Contextual Intelligence.” I do not read to confirm my thoughts, but I find myself reading to see what I might have missed. Purposely, I read for understanding, whether or not I arrive at the same conclusion or solution. Maybe I am just an old guy reading from another place and time, but I believe a Christian imperative is to understand other people and peoples, times and places, and the crucible of human history. Anger, rage, vindictiveness, threats and acts of violence are not of Christ. Degrading and dehumanizing others are not of Christ. I want to understand others as reflecting Imago Dei and realizing that the same grace I hope others will extend to me, I will first extend to others; that ultimately we might together know Christ’s grace and reign.
A lot has happened that I could have missed in 38 years of ministry. Sometimes in the turmoil and compulsions of temporal pursuit I have even missed Christ. But even now, I believe one can honor Christ by pursuing what one has not clearly seen. Christ understands the human condition so as to die and redeem us. In our limited way, can we understand others in whose condition we share? Regardless of COVID, political turmoil, fatigue, and the temptation to entrench, there is the True Light that shows the way and casts Itself upon the soul’s corners.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’.” Luke 18:13
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