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Front and Center, pt. 2

June 11th, 2012 No comments

In my previous blog post, I disclosed a certain struggle of my life: How do I, as an aspiring academic, balance my (budding) academic prowess, ego, and spiritual life? It’s a question that’s been bugging me lately, namely because in today’s climate many, many Christians are turning to blogs to voice their opinions about the current goings-on in the Christian world, while discussing various theological questions.

At first, I thought that people who blogged by either written or digital means did so because they had a point to prove or an ego to stroke. Maybe this is true. Then I thought about my time in high school when I wrote various devotionals, and the fact that I have recently rekindled my blogging.

I imagine that, were I to publish a major article or book, my ego would receive a boost and I would feel a great sense of accomplishment and be proud of myself and my work, just as I and others might be a bit proud about what they have written or recorded in a blog. Now, I come to my question:

Is there room for this kind of pride in Christianity? And if not, what are we to do about it?

First, let me speak again from my own life. Recently I have become convicted of the fact that I have spent very little energy pursuing my devotional life and cultivating my relationship with God. From a consistency perspective, I did alright in high school, but once I hit college, my devotional life was virtually non-existent, even through seminary (of all places!). I think I was so concerned with academic performance (even though I didn’t do all that well). I was exposed to Scripture on a daily basis and didn’t WANT to study it devotionally. I may have even been a little bitter at God. Now that I have graduated, I have been able to spend more time focusing on my spiritual life.

Despite my average academic performance, I still find that I take pride in my ability to write, reason and argue, which brings me back to my question.

Is there room for this kind of attitude as Christians?

This is ssomething that I’m still struggling with, but at the moment my answer is “I hope so.” In one of the courses that I teach, students learn that one’s talents and passions are sometimes a sign of God’s will for one’s life. Basically, one should use all of his or her talents, abilities, and even their thoughts and deliberations as an act of worship to God. This is a tall order.

I am not there yet.

So how does one tackle the pride issue? Firstly, as one of my friends and colleagues suggested to me, new discoveries in the biblical studies field should be made and analyzed with the intent that we enable others to better understand God’s word. Second, I think there is a difference between taking pride in oneself as opposed to one’s abilities.  I have met a fair few biblical scholars who are very humble.

For my part, I don’t understand how they do it.  I can only conclude that it is the power of God’s Holy Spirit working in and through an individual.  For now, the best I can do is pray and ask for this kind of attitude, in order that I might receive a humble spirit, even while endeavoring to write.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: As Christians, we are supposed to glorify God in EVERYTHING we do.  Tall order, indeed.  And one that I and lots of others haven’t mastered yet.  My goal as a Christian is to make Christ “front and center” – he must be my goal.  In the end, my focus is Christ, and while I might take pride in my accomplishments, I am not a prideful person; I do not put my vocational endeavors above my relationship with Christ.  He is front and center.

God, grant me the spirit to use all of my gifts, abilities and talents for your glory and not my own.

Categories: Theology Tags:

Front and Center, pt. 1

June 6th, 2012 1 comment

After I had finished my last blog post and received some feedback from it, I began to think. Exactly why is it that we do this blogging business?

I read my feedback, went back over my blog and thought to myself, “Boy, this is heady. Is this stuff even follow-able? Can it be read by ANYONE and be understood? Can it make a difference, and somehow clarify an issue that had previously been misunderstood (or, more appropriately for me, articulate an additional opinion, offer an additional viewpoint)?

I do not mean to be overly difficult in my blog writing, nor do I want to present my opinions as “my way or the high way.” Anyone who blogs–ANYONE–is merely offering an opinion. The few absolute truths offered in the Christian religion, for Christians, are the exception, and the previous post offered very few of those, if any.

Comprehending my blog post forced me to examine myself and my motives in writing. Why is it that I write? On one level, there is a selfish motive, I confess. I do want someone to say, “Hey, look. What he has to say is pretty cool–let’s have him write here!” or “Let’s have him come teach here!” or something of the sort.

Actually, I have another confession: in my case, that was (maybe IS) the main reason.

If I do end up in the academic field some day, this is the norm. As one of my professors put it, “Theologians and exegetes get paid to argue with each other.” That’s true, I think. You write, and you hope that your book or article will be picked up by a publisher. Someone sees your book or article and reviews it. If this review is negative, then you respond with another article to counter their “attack.”

One would think that there is a great deal of ego involved in this process, and some may say this is rightfully deserved. Respected theologians and exegetes have earned their stripes–they have toiled, labored, clawed and scratched to get to where they are in their respective field. A bit of ego is arguably to be expected after overcoming such hurdles as they have.

I thought of this, and thought of my blog on a smaller (much smaller!) scale, and thought, “Why am I doing this?” and “Is there a place for this?”

More later.

Categories: Theology Tags:
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