Therefore Go (!)

Since starting college, I have really fallen in love with reading. I liked reading when I was younger. I’ve always had a terrible habit of starting multiple books at a time and never finishing any of them, but when you take five theology classes at a time, you have no choice but to read many, many books at a time.

I read all summer, so jumping into classes hasn’t been that much of a change from my latest routine. This semester I am taking classes like Old Testament Wisdom Writings, Church in Contemporary Context (aka ecclesiology – yay big, theology words) and Teaching the Bible to Adolescents. Opening up all of my books felt like Christmas morning when from my packages I unwrapped authors like N.T. Wright, Walter Bruggeman, John Howard Yoder, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I couldn’t wait to get to my theology classes, so I peeked at some of the syllabi online before my first day of classes. (Yes. I’m fully aware that I’m a dork.) Scrolling through my Teaching the Bible to Adolescents class, my stomach dropped when I found out that I had to go into a classroom/youth group and – get this – teach the Bible to adolescents. I need to observe someone teach three lessons, and then after observing, I need to teach a lesson of my own.

I sat back in awe . . . “I’m not qualified to teach! If I wanted to be a teacher, I’d go to the education department. I lead worship; I can’t teach a class! Kids think I’m crazy . . . I think kids are crazy! This  will never work.” The list of excuses went on, and on, and on of why I couldn’t and shouldn’t teach. Thank goodness I didn’t find out in front of the professor, or we would have definitely started the semester off on the wrong foot.

As days passed, I felt less passionate about how unqualified I am, but I still wanted nothing to do with it. I was scrolling through Facebook today, and a friend had posted the following verse:

I am here speaking with all the authority of God, who has commanded Me to give you this commission: Go out and make disciples in all the nations. Ceremonially wash them through baptism in the name of the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then disciple them. Form them in the practices and postures that I have taught you, and show them how to follow the commands I have laid down for you. And I will be with you, day after day, to the end of the age. (Matt 28:18 -20 The Voice Translation)

She posted a different translation (the NIV) in which it starts with the familiar words “Therefore go.” My studies are a good thing; I wholeheartedly believe that. Almost every day, I read something – an article, a book, a passage – that makes me cry out “Yes!” But, I can’t usher in the kingdom with a highlighter; that is, my ministry does not start there. Ministry is going.

“Going” doesn’t have to be abroad. It doesn’t have to be a mission trip or a service project. “Going” doesn’t have to be going into vocational ministry. “Going” means getting ministry mess on your hands. It means being with people, discipling them, forming them to be more like Jesus and showing them how to follow His commands. “Going” means going to student-teach, even though you really, really, really don’t want to.

Yes, I to get my good grades. Yes, I want to fill my future office’s bookshelves with books chock-full on notes and highlights to help me in my ministry. But my goal does not stop there. I want to live a life of “going” to make disciples, to help people understand Him, and to advance the Kingdom for His glory.

 

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The Objection Your Honor

Just then, right in the middle of the brilliant monologue your defence attorney is delivering about all the things you’ve done and all the people who love you, the prosecution slides a note over to you, “Don’t ever forget, everybody hates you.”

You add it to the pile of notes he’s already given you, which read:

“No one will ever understand you in the way that you desperately want them to understand you.”
“You will watch all your favourite musicians kill themselves and all your movie stars will grow old.”
“Everything you’ve ever made has been trite and cliche and horrible. In fact anyone who’s ever said they’ve liked anything of yours has done so out of pity”
“One day you and someone you love will find yourself in a room and one of you will be dead and the other will wish they were.”

All of which he will later enter as Exhibit B in the long, drawn out court case to convict you of being simply pathetic and sad and useless at everything, really.

And yet your defence attorney carries on. And you know that sometimes, he’s fighting for your life.

————

I read this tonight for the first time on the floor of the poetry section at Barnes and Noble. Tonight I was reminded that no matter the charge against me, be it true or untrue . . . no matter how guilty I am . . . I have a defense attorney fighting for me and if I cling to Him, the Judge will find me to be innocent.

And that’s the beauty of grace.