Friday, May 29, 2015

Year in review

It's quickly approaching a year since I last updated this blog. No, I didn't jump off a cliff, nor did I enter into a life of monasticism. I simply took a nice long sabbatical just to let life play out without any long blogging excursions.

Over the past year, much has happened and much has been learned. I:
  • Completed a year-long elders-training curriculum
  • Began serving as a pianist and alternate worship leader at church
  • Began co-leading my small group at church
  • Initiated a major multi-team project at work
  • Got engaged...and married to a wonderful godly woman

I think there's much to be said about these milestones having mostly happened within the local church. The trajectory for my life in this particular era of my twenties has largely been one of spiritual growth and the continual adaption of life to a Biblical worldview. In the past, I've habitually gravitated toward compartmentalizing areas of my life-- school, work, family, hobbies, church-- and have often attempted to flourish within each separately.

But all of this has been radically shaken up by an emerging "ministry" philosophy that aims to see all areas of life, secular or Christian, as ministries which revolve around the core mission of giving God the glory.  The practicalities of this aren't always so lucid-- I still wonder how I can think biblically about what seems to be the inherently selfish nature of professional advancement or academic accomplishment.

The bottom line of this is properly understanding the Christian life as all predicated on the Gospel.  If Christ is my worth, then he makes it possible for me to fulfill the priesthood through seeing all areas of my life as service rendered for Gospel proclamation.  Hence, it's always important for me to strive for measurable fruit as the output of God's work in me. 

Theologically, the biggest takeaway of the past year has been a much richer understanding of the Gospel's substance in all of Scripture's outworking.  Context always seems to be the missing suspect in a bad hermeneutic. But beyond simply reading Scripture out of context is a tendency among many Christians to ignore its substance. 

The Bible has one fundamental narrative that underpins two paradigms-- Law, the reflection of the Creator, and Gospel, God's work to redeem the created. Every verse of Scripture is predicated on this very narrative, so that every obscurity in the Bible is understood through the lens of Scripture's substance.  Christians don't see biblical commands as arbitrary imperatives; rather, they see them in the light of the overarching narrative.

For example, Paul doesn't prohibit women from exercising authority over men just for its own sake. He does so because it is an outworking of the creation order-- that men and women are complementary, much as the Trinity is also.  In a similar manner, Paul's curious treatment of tongues and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14 isn't to appraise the competing value of each gift; rather, it is to encourage continual corporate edification through the preached Word.

Understanding this metanarrative not only helps believers answer the question: "why does the Bible say this?", it also puts to rest the tensions that Christians often have to contend with when evaluating the Bible in the context of modern society. This is particularly salient in the hot-button areas, like creationism, marriage, and the like.

What's best about embracing the substance of Scripture is its simplicity. The bottom line is seeing the Bible for what it is and understanding the entirety of its story. But the resolution of questions doesn't just stop there for me-- there must be a more practical outworking beyond just theological hermeneutics. For me, I suspect that it's a better appreciation for what I do in small group ministry, or worship, or my relationship with my wife. Do these reflect, in some way, the scope and power of the Gospel?

As much as I enjoy theology, I think the true dogma of biblical Christianity is seen not just in exegesis of doctrine, but in the Gospel's responsive power. In other words, how has my life changed as a response to God's saving work in my life? If my life is demonstrative of the Biblical narrative, does it not so much more direct people to see the power of the preached Word?

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