Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Remain a Student

I found my old High School yearbooks as I was packing this week.  I got to looking at them and noted something.  My High School was small - my class had 65 and we were a large class.  This means that when I graduated, I knew everyone in my class, and most of the Juniors, quite a few of the Sophomores, and even a bunch of the Freshmen.

I had moved to that school as a Freshman - and being a young idiot, I had had some disdain for those younger than me.  The Junior High students across the street seemed like such stupid little idiots.  Four years later, I had outgrown my own stupidity, and many of them were friends.  (In fact, I just packed a nice piece of pottery that Karissa, a Junior, had made for me -- it's been in my kitchen every day of my life that I've had a kitchen of my own - that's sort of cool.)  It is the height of arrogance and foolishness to disdain someone simply because they haven't learned what you have learned yet.  In terms of my schooling, I'm glad I found that out.

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When it comes to theology, I remain a student.  This is something I think more theologians would do well to remember - and I don't mean this to be the giant admonition that "you need to keep learning".  That should be obvious.

But how do you deal with that other person - that theologian, that neighboring pastor, that parishioner - who just doesn't get "it" - whatever it is.  Where there's just a point or aspect of theology where they want to make you facepalm - what do you do?

Do you disdain them -- like a Freshman Eric disdained the Junior High folks -- or do you remember that just as you are a student, learning, growing, and maturing - so too are they? 

You know what - let them grow.  Be patient with them as others have been (and indeed, ARE) patient with you - and let them grow.  Be their friends, their colleague, their pastor - confess the truth, and be patient. 

If they don't "get" everything right now - don't sweat it.  You know that you yourself are a student - doesn't that mean that you acknowledge that there are things which you yourself don't "get" yet?  So they are at a different point on the power curve.  So be it.  Show patience and love.  So they are arrogant and don't get what they don't know.  So be it.  Show patience and love and repent of your own arrogance.

Because in all things - it's not about me, or what I know, or how great I am.  I'm not the center of everything.  I didn't define Minden High School... and I certainly don't define the Christian Church.  Rather, I and you are redeemed sinners, slugging through life in this world.  Repent, slug on, aid others in their slugging, and with joy receive forgiveness from Christ the Crucified!

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