Saturday, August 2, 2014


Nights where I stay up talking to people about things that matter mean a lot to me.  One of the last nights on my recent trip to D.C., a couple new friends and I stayed up talking about a variety of topics that are heavy on my heart-- the church, social work, the treatment of others, hunger, poverty, homelessness, etc.  Learning from others is something that I will never grow tired of.  I agree firmly with Robert Frost when he said that, "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence."

As we were sitting around a table, chowing down on popcorn, one of my new friends brought up a good and new point for me.  If I'm going to work as a social worker and minister, am I depending on the suffering of others to give me a career?

This is so important to think about as I'm working towards the goal career-wise of helping people.  I want to help people.  I want to help get rid of hunger and child hunger.  I don't want people to sleep on the streets, and I want children to have the access to a good, quality education and clean water.  So essentially, the job I want is to work myself out of a job?  Hmmm...

But with a world that is so disastrous, so traumatized by the heart break and the quivering frame that is its very existence, we know that ending all these things forever is a task that is not likely for a long time.  If ever.
I have a lot to think about.  WE have a lot to think about.  None of us can say that we have it figured out. None of us can say that the universal church is doing its complete job.  None of us can say that our arms and hands are fully extended in the business of helping others and demonstrating to others that we understand the humanity we believe God has bestowed upon him or her.  When we put all of our accomplishments and the hours that we spend trying to better our world next to Jesus, we are let down.  We realize that our individual efforts are minuscule in comparison.  We realize that "...the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25).

I think to some extent we have to learn to live with tension. We have to learn to live within his dichotomy of how we believe the world or the church should work with food, for instance, and then realize that in the end people just need some in their stomachs.

I think a lot about what it means for the church to feed others.  What does it mean for us to be stewards of the creation that God has given us?  To truly revel in the joy of things God has created and to enjoy them?  To eat vegetables and fruits that God has blessed us with, yet we still deal with the very present realities of cheap, unhealthy, subsidized foods, the American diet, and small church budgets that result in potlucks of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cookies.  These are some questions that leave me wondering what and how I am to react to this crazy world I am somehow a member of.

Musician Audrey Assad talks about this.  She says something that really resonates with me:
"I wish I had an answer.  A sort of spiritual bandaid for the great gaping hole between my theology and my practice.  'Cause I believe in God.  I believe he's enough for me, and yet, some days, a lot of days, I live like I don't get that.  I wish it was different.  It's hard to admit it, but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this".
In context, she is talking about the dichotomy between being in constant prayer and simultaneously in rest.  But I think that this can be more than just this.  Developing a theology about social things and environmental things is just as important as developing a theology about the aspects of Christian faith that are generally regarded as being more 'spiritual' or that deal with our formation as Christians.  If I better understand, or have a better understanding of my own understanding of how I believe God views the environment and creation, then I can begin to think of how my own actions influence others around me.  I can also begin to see what my actions say about what I believe about God.

We must have grace for one another because really we're living in one large mess of juxtapositions.  Everything about our lives and living for Christ seems to be in conflict with the realities of the world.  There's something about this that is alluring yet repelling at the same time.  I sometimes wish that the Bible spelled out how to do things practically, in modern day context (actually, I wish this a lot).  Unfortunately, it doesn't, so we're left figuring out these complexities of the world.

If I'm going to work as a social worker and minister, am I depending on the suffering of others to give me a career?

Maybe even if this is true it isn't what really matters.  Grace is abound and Christ is alive.  People are suffering and I feel called to help.  Even if I'm "depending" on the suffering of others, my job is not from the suffering, my job is given to me from God.  The suffering does not come from my calling.  My calling comes from the potential of alleviation of suffering.  Of freedom, both spiritually and physically, through the real and resurrected Christ.  Of the suffering and my (hopeful) future vocation, one does not derive from the other.

This is a very complicated issue that requires much more thought.  But here are some of my ramblings.  Here are just some thoughts.

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