Last night as I was reading and studying from The Work of Theology, by Stanley Hauerwas. I was struck by a quote that I wanted to share with you here and will develop a little later.
In the first chapter of his work, Hauerwas shares this statement as part of setting up a philosophical framework of practical reasoning, through which I expect he will tell his story about the work of theology. It is a quote about good news:
“The good news of the story identified as Christian, is that we are not fated by our mistakes. Not to be so fated is the result of our belief that we are creatures destined to be friends with one another and with God.” (Hauerwas 2015, 19)
Let that sink in. By the grace given us in Christ, and through faithful belief, we are not fated by our mistakes… I will come back to more of this good news, but first, why am I reading Hauerwas?
In August of this year, I began studying at Moody Bible Institute, pursuing a Master of Arts in Global Ministry Design. Truly and mercifully, God led me to this program that can be completed while involved in ministry, one class at a time, in a distance learning capacity, and with direct application to the international ministry and Forest Hills. And I am grateful to God, the time is now.
My first class is Theological Foundations of Biblical Interpretation. We are diving-in headfirst. While in class last week, I was given the following encouragement by my professor, Dr. James Spencer:
“As continue your studies, you will learn through the lens of the academic disciplines. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but, as I hope you are beginning to understand as part of this course, every approach has its strengths and weaknesses. One of the shortcomings of the Academic disciplines approach is that it often privileges “head knowledge” and intellect over one’s spiritual life. This dynamic isn’t intentional, but it is there nonetheless.”
What a privilege it is for all of us to not only have the good news that Christ has paid the price for our mistakes, and has forgiven us when we turn to Him and accept the gift of Salvation, but that we also have a Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God, who resides with us. I am thankful to be able to pursue development of my education and spiritual life, together, with you.
Dr. Spencer also issued this challenge:
“So, as you move forward with your MA, be in prayer, ask others to be in prayer for you, and connect to your local church body asking them to see what you are doing here as an extension of their local ministry. Find ways to remember that the tasks you are completing in this program are important, but that having them connect to your heart and contribute to increasing intimacy with Christ is crucial.”
Would you please pray for me, for all of our church staff, and our church? We, and I, need your prayers. I need prayer for balance of spiritual life, education, work, family, future, and fulfilling the will of God in all my actions, moment by moment. And as you pray for me, I pray for you.
Church family, please, I invite you to see my pursuit at Moody as an extension of the local ministry of Forest Hills. Let me be of service to you. Ask me questions about what I am studying, hold me accountable, share your insights and guidance, and seek God with me.
Hauerwas reminds us that we are destined to be friends, and friends with God.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:3
So, family members and friends, thank you for praying, for walking this road with me. Would you do one more thing?
Would you help share this good news that others can become friends of God?
We need your help in the international ministry on Wednesday evenings. There is space from 7:00pm – 7:45pm to be a Conversation Partner with an international student. Topics will not be religious in nature and no training is required. Come with a warm welcoming spirit and willingness to talk and make a new friend.
Come to the 3rd floor of the Education Building at 7:00 pm Wednesdays, and you can join my conversation class. You can partner with one or more international students and simply have conversations in English. We can provide you the topic, or you can bring your own.
Join us for one week, or many. Share the good news by sharing in conversation and being friendly.
Would you join me and make new friends this Wednesday?
Dr. James Spencer, Why Study, September 15, 2019.
Hauerwas, Stanley. The Work of Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015. Chapter 1. Kindle.
John 15:3 (NIV)