Friday, June 17, 2005

Home Again with Random Thoughts

Almost 20 hours between leaving Peru and getting home leaves one with a lot of time to think. Some would argue too much time. I’ve just returned from taking myself out to dinner and a movie. It struck me as strange that I’d do something like that after having just returned from where I’ve been, but then I have just seen and left my best friend again so I thought it would distract my thinking about that little detail. Being the classically educated student that I am, I got to thinking about how all that goes together and applies: Batman, Peru, and life…

What defines who we are? Is it what we do, or “what is underneath”? Which comes first, being or doing? What is being? What is doing?

I have often heard it said that God wants us to be all that He has called us to be so that we can do all that He has called us to do. As Christians we get so caught up in doing that we often forget that doing is not only our instinct, it is our nature. Reflexes, reactions, revolutions. The knee jerk effect is a part of who we are as fallen man. It’s so simple and natural to do. It’s so uncomfortable and irregular to be. If what we do defines who we are I should think it obvious that we are all hopeless bumblers, liars, and hypocrites. Even the best of intentions are tainted. But if we look at being apart from anything but the gospel, that too is hopeless because it requires our doing in order to be something.

Missions in an isolated place can often be a daunting and doubtful undertaking. Any ministry for that matter with the purposed intention of spreading the gospel can come to that place. We realize that if we do things correctly, biblically, and reformationally we will not see fruit for quite some time if at all. While the vision is sound, the slow change over time often gets monotonous…we have too much time on our hands to think. Think about how little we see happening, think about how little we feel we are doing. And the urge comes to do something drastic—just to speed up the process of reformation and cultural change, mind you.

There is something to be said for bettering yourself so that you can better the community. We must not mistake that for a rebuke of selfless piety or as a call for intellectualism. In the New Testament, Christ not only made an acknowledging commented on the tree that bore no fruit but cursed it and it shriveled up and died. All through Scripture the purest of wells were the deepest ones. The more shallow ones were often polluted by dust and elements, the water still able to be drank but bitter or unhealthy.

There needs to be something we can draw from. History of the past. Wisdom of those who have gone before. Helpful hints to avoid making the same mistakes as others. Pruning techniques to better grow. It seems to me that there is a fine line between being and doing. Bettering oneself through study and discipline is definitely a doing thing. But it also seems the more we take in, the deeper the well the Holy Spirit has to draw from in guiding us to what we are to do.

I don’t know the answer to which comes first, the being or the doing, or if they go hand in hand. But it does seem that the process is the point and not the end result. When it seems to me that I am not doing enough for the Kingdom, when I ask myself what good am I really doing here, or what should I do differently, it is later that I look back on those times and see that it was more than a lull, more than a time of doubt. It was preparation.

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