A Change in Perspective

So I have taken about a 4-week break from blogging. It wasn’t a decision I necessarily made upfront. It was simply that the month of May was a very intense month and so it happened by default, at least in one sense. But as I took the time off from blogging, I began to lose much of the desire to blog, especially to be caught in the rat race of having to keep articles popping out ever couple of days or so.

So here is my first post since the 4-week hiatus. And I cannot say I am back with any desire to work hard to regularly post, again, every couple of days. But I am entering with a change in perspective in a few different areas. Not really a change in any theological perspective. But a change in approach.

I detail some of those changes below:

1) Distractions

Every few months, some of the older and wiser leaders, with whom I work with in Global Horizons, meet together with some of the younger leaders, people like myself. These times are filled with discussion, prayer and hearing from the Lord. And occasionally we do take up a major theological topic to discuss. Back in February, we discussed the nature of apostolic authority today, since we hold that all ministries within the Eph 4:11 context are needed today to equip the church.

In the last meetings, just a few weeks ago, there was a time of prayer to end our couple of days together. One of the leaders called forth the younger leaders to pray over them. He had a prophetic prayer about not being distracted. It hit clear in the centre of my heart. The word of God literally became the two-edged sword that it is.

We get so distracted. Not simply with Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and blogging and smartphones. But we ultimately get so easily distracted from what God has called us to, and it might be through those varying media measures today. I was a distracted man. It wasn’t about ‘bad’ things. It was simply about not hearing God and walking out his calling. Caught up in the office, rather than with the people. Caught up blogging, rather than listening to our Father.

Distracted.

2) Reading

This second one is connected to the former. I have been quite distracted with a lot of theological reading lately. If you know me, you know I love theology. And I love engaging with many of the issues today, at least theologically engaging with them – gender roles, evolution, post-modernism, new perspective, etc.

But one has to be careful.

It’s so easy to be drawn in to all the pop-theology of the days, that which is popular and selling books (thanks to HarperCollins, right?)

Again, I’m not really sure any theological approaches have changed in me. I was simply going 200% in engaging in all the hubbub of theological banter today that I was missing the all-important voice of the Father.

It’s been Tom Wright, Pete Enns, Daniel Kirk, Scot McKnight, Jamie Smith, Kenton Sparks, et al. My Amazon bill was maybe larger than normal.

And all of those authors and their books were great. And I might go back and read some of them so that I actually better digest what is being communicated, rather than getting them read so I can jump into the theological banter and post great book reviews about them (what arrogance of me, which I will come on to more).

But I have shifted and have become less interested in the theological rat race. Again, I like each of those authors and believe they are important voices for the [western] church of the 21st century. Yet I have found myself being drawn more towards devotional, practical and pastoral writings. Even more, I have simply wanted to read the Bible more than any theology.

I am in no way wanting to defend any kind of perspective that preaches a kind of ‘heavy’ (maybe legalistic) approach to Bible reading and study. Something like: Well, we should always be reading our Bibles much more than anything else.

I had a seminary professor whom I appreciated and he once mentioned how he had spoken to students who felt they weren’t spending enough personal time in God’s word. These students felt self-condemned. He simply asked how many classes they were taking (or something like that). He then went on to point out how much Bible study they are getting through these classes. Therefore, they needed to relax and cut themselves some slack.

Of course, studying theology in seminary is not necessarily the same as personal devotions in Scripture (I’ve been there). But I recognise that I engage with Scripture at some level on a daily basis. It might not look like the typical ‘quiet time’. But I can personally find much strength in theological study. That is simply the way God has wired me and I celebrate it.

But I was distracted with my reading.

And so, for much of these 4 weeks, I have stopped engaging with much theology. Today was the first time I visited the blogs of some of the writers I enjoy. And it was nice to do it. But I cannot, and will not, visit their blogs on a daily basis.

And I’m trying to take up the Bible in 90 days plan. It’s a challenge with about 13 chapters per day. But it’s ok if I don’t read much else these days.

I did purchase a copy of Bill Johnson’s book, Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. Now, I have to be careful, as he and Bethel are the hottest thing in charismatic circles these days. So just as I am looking to guard against engaging in all the popular theological banter, I don’t need to chase any rabbits with popular charismatic pastors of the day. But I do know from reading the book that he is a man of faith, a man who stirs and encourages. It’s been nice to read bits of the book every few days. There has actually been some refreshing and strengthening tidbits for me over these past days.

Reading.

3) Attitude

As #2 was connected to #1, so #3 is connected to #2.

My theological perspectives have shifted over the past few years. Much of it is due to my exposure to perspectives outside some of the more conservative, evangelical (and mainly reformed) views of American Christianity. Of course, such people will continue to be a blessing to the church in varying ways. But I am not there in my journey in Christ these days.

And this is why I have begun to appreciate Wright, Enns, McKnight, Sparks and others. But in my engaging with these writers, I have done so with a very arrogant attitude to kind of deconstruct conservative evangelicalism. Honestly, I think some of conservative evangelicalism can be unhelpful at times especially in regards to doctrines of Scripture, creation and gender roles, as well as engaging with some of what [good] critical scholarship has to offer. And deconstruction does not necessarily have to be bad (something I learned from Jamie Smith).

But engaging with such authors and their thoughts cannot be done with arrogance.

And so I had to look in the mirror on this one.

I read the letter of James a few days ago and was richly strengthened by this verse:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13)

Deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.

What great words, especially for me, one who had been distracted, even distracted in his theological engagement, and one who has been distracted in his attitude of heart. I long to see humility and wisdom, God’s humility and wisdom, guide any theological reading, writing and interaction I have. My desire is to let this verse guide me in my family life, pastoring, envisioning, theological engagement, and anything else God puts in my life.

Attitude.

So this is my story over the past few weeks. I cannot say I am back ‘full-time’ with blogging. But, with the humility and wisdom of God, I shall look to remain tracted (rather than distracted) in all that I put my hands to.

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4 thoughts on “A Change in Perspective

  1. Yes, the internet has so much to keep us distracted. It’s important to have time to NOT be reading, discussing, working, talking, and have time to just “be still”. God gives us wonderful moments of insight and clarity when we disengage from the “clutter” of life to listen to Him, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day.

    I for one, appreciate both your reading and your blogging, for through it you have opened MY eyes to some new ideas and perspectives I would not have been looking for on my own. I don’t have the time or money to purchase and read the latest books, and before reading here, had even heard of the authors you regularly read. So thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts here.

    As for arrogance, it’s so easy to fall into. We must always try to approach each new idea or perspective with a skeptical eye, rather than looking for something to strengthen our own preset agenda. Then we must carefully search the scriptures in their original languages and study writings of the opposing view before making any kind of changes in our theological thinking, and even THEN, still be open to the fact that this is still our OPINION based on our study to date, and not NECESSARILY “the truth”. That the ONLY truth we can be dogmatic about is Christ and Him crucified for us. The rest is just our finite mind attempting to grasp some understanding of an infinite God and His ways. It’s so easy in our enthusiasm for the “new” that we become more dogmatic that we ought and in doing so exalt ourselves as an AUTHORITY or a pointer to an AUTHORITY (author, speaker, etc.) regarding theology. The only AUTHORITY is Christ, we must remain servants, no matter our opinions.

    I’m happy with whatever level of posting gives you the most peace and communion with God.

  2. Read a post a year or so ago about a Pastor who graphed the number of baptisms in his church against the number of blog articles he had written. There was a strong inverse correlation.

    • Very challenging to consider. I probably would be challenged to graph the number of hours I spend in a week blogging and the number of hours I spend in prayer & with the people of our local church.

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