I’m wishy washy.
It’s true! When it comes to doctrine and values, I can be totally honest with you. My values have changed over the years because of personal experience or relationships that challenged me to the core. I really thought I knew it all when I went to seminary. When it came to scripture, I could argue points of law better and more intensely than anyone else. I fought with others about political historical views that seeped into the church drastically altering long held biblically based truths. Bill suggested I wear a sign that said “doesn’t play well with others.”
I remember distinctly a very heated match in the seminary coffee shop. I should’ve sold tickets. But, here’s the skinny. I was seated at one of the old rickety wooden tables drinking coffee and eating bagels with my best friends. We were discussing abortion and a woman’s right to choose. Holy moly. The argument went to scripture. Biblical precepts were flung everywhere like a ticker tape parade. If someone would’ve had an iPhone, the video would’ve gone viral. But, as I recall this vivid memory, I knew I was wrong. But, oh man, I was not going to lose.
Doctrine classes were honestly my favorite classes in seminary. I dove deeply into the scintillating waters of theology. Men of incredible sacramental depth wrote books so profound I would lose all track of time reading them. If you’ve ever seen what I do to books I love, you can imagine the color coding, multi-color tabs and double-dogged ears of texts that were truly transformational for me. Thomas Torrance, Karl Barth, Jurgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and my beloved John Wesley captured the essence of theology and doctrine in a way that catapulted me into a hemisphere I never knew existed.
But, then I descended from that pristine, lofty academic high place into the rugged, muddied soil of reality and made my home in the local church. It was only then that doctrine began to make sense. Doctrine isn’t meant to thrive in the well-worn pages of documents settled onto library shelves. Doctrine is meant to flourish within human hearts and lived out through daily life within the Christian community. I found it far easier to make doctrine into something I believed strongly and could strongly defend. I held strong biblical beliefs and expedited superior arguments to support it. But, in the end, my doctrine reflected more me and less of Jesus. I needed a community of faith to help me discover the fullness of doctrine and its profound impact on me first and then the whole world. The local church is the holy ground where God chisels perfect master pieces from blocks of earth-made marble. It is where mercy, correction, forgiveness, repentance and healing grace are not only discovered but stretched, molded and shaped to fit into human souls.
We begin a new series Sunday. I hope you come ready to learn. We have much to discover together with regards to what we believe and what we value at this point in our lives together. My sincere prayer is that we discover what GOD believes and how we can live into His reality for us, for our families, for our church and for the world Jesus loved so much he died for it.
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. Colossians 1:15-18 The Message