Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."
Recently, I encountered someone who has a "wicked scheme." This person works toward her own selfish desires. And, she seems to be indifferent to the pain she causes others. Mercifully, I rarely encounter such nefarious plans, but sometimes I do. On such occasions, maintaining perspective can be a challenge.
Many people struggle. No two journeys are identical. And, even the ones who appear to hatch a "wicked scheme" have a life. That life is unique and many variables join together to create the context that births "wicked schemes." Evil does not exist in isolation.
For many years, I have collected rocks. My collection resides on my desk and reminds me to maintain perspective. One rock is worn almost into a smooth ball. For many years, the sea and sand rolled and washed it. How many years did it take for it to become smooth? Several others are flat and stack into a mini-cairn.
John Muir, who founded Yosemite National Park, reads rocks with great sensitivity. After returning to the wild, he wrote, "All the rocks seemed talkative, and more lovable than ever. They are dear friends, and have warm blood gushing through their granite flesh; and I love them with a love intensified by long and close companionship" (Yosemite and Beyond, p. 145-46).
What do my rocks say to me? They remind me to keep my perspective. They point me back to the psalmist who said, "Be still before the Lord." When someone embarks on a "wicked scheme," God remains God. I do not have to answer for others or their plans. I answer for myself. What can I do? "Wait patiently... do not fret," says the psalmist.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
The German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg published an essay in 1991 called, “The Need for “The content of truth that is inherent in the documents of the tradition has to be determined again and again, because in each historical situation a new effort is needed to distinguish the truth of the gospel…from the evanescent forms of language and thought that at one time served to express such abiding truth.” In other words, we have to keep exploring our faith. We have to keep pushing it further. We cannot take things at face-value. Our context is different from the context of Charlottesville twenty or fifty years ago. We keep pushing our faith so that we can grow and come to a deeper understanding of our relationship with God.
Systematic Theology.” He writes,
Systematic Theology.” He writes,
Theology revisits old questions. As Christians, we can ask, “Is the Holy Spirit saying something new?” If the answer is, “yes,” then we do not indict the past. We recognize God’s continuing engagement with the world. And, we give thanks! For God still loves the world! The world still needs this good news.
In the Gospel of John, we read, “After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So, if I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you and example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’” There is a lot to unpack in these verses. Theology provides us with tools to better understand the meaning.
The content of truth has not changed. Jesus is the Christ and sets an example for us to follow. But, we need to determine that truth and how it applies to our lives again and again. The lens through which we see the world today is different from the lenses we used when we were children. Likewise, the lens we use today is different than 100 or 1,000 years ago. We engage with God and God can handle our questions. We can push further and dig deeper. If you ever want to discuss one of these big questions, please come and see me. I love theological questions and searching for the answers with friends. I look forward to continuing the journey with you and growing in faith with you.