Death by GPS

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This week, I couldn’t recall the name of one of the streets in town.
It was Main Street.
Thinking about it, I realized that if you were to hand me a blank map of my small city, I would only be able to insert maybe six or seven street names.  If I had to tell someone how to get to my house using only the names of streets signs, I don’t know if I could do it!
What is going on with me?  I used to be really good at street names.  It’s as if my ability to match a name and a place has just shriveled up.  What gives?
And then the three-letter answer came to me:  GPS.
Global Positioning Satellites.  Somewhere up in the atmosphere there are lots of little contraptions orbiting the planet that, through my phone or my car, can tell me with pinpoint accuracy where I am, and where I’m going.  They do all that work for me. GPS has become such a part of my life that I’ve stopped paying attention to my surroundings.  Instead, I pay heed to the slightly British-accented woman’s voice telling me to “proceed to the route”.
Is it dangerous to rely too much on a GPS?  Turns out, it can be deadly.  I found this article from the Sacramento Bee, describing numerous cases of people following a malfunctioned or misread GPS out into Death Valley.  They became lost, didn’t know where to go, and in several cases perished because of it!
What if that’s me, minus the desert?  What if I’ve come to rely on the “eye in the sky” instead of my own vision, so much that my ability to see clearly has suffered from it?
Death by GPS is a real thing.  I wonder, what about death by Faith?  Placing so much faith into someone or something that you lose yourself.  I think it is possible.  I’ve seen people turn a blind eye to their own gifts and uniqueness, throwing their own agency away to the whims of God.
But God doesn’t work that way.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.  –Psalm 119:105
See?  God doesn’t carry us over the finish line.  God helps us see where to go.  I like what C.S. Lewis had to say on the subject:
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
― C.S. Lewis
God doesn’t require faith at the cost of agency.  Both are meant to go together.  God shines like a lamp, like a light, like the sun, and with faith’s help, we chart a course for our lives.
God illuminates our world, and nudges us to move.
Where do we go?  God may have a few ideas about that.
But it’s up to us to read the (street) signs.
Have a great week,
Mitch

Life GPS

 

 

 

Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY

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Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY

Well, it could be.

I know several folks who choose a word as their theme for each year.  I’ve done it myself.  One year my word was “Discipline”.  I know others who’ve chosen words like  “Happiness” or “Deliberateness”.  It’s kind of a nice substitute to the seldom-kept New Year’s Resolution.

May I suggest the word THEOLOGY as your word for this next year?  I think I’m going to make it mine.  It’s probably not the first word that might occur to you as an underlying theme for your life for the next 360+ days, but here’s why I think it should be:

1. WE NEED SMARTER CHRISTIANS.

I swear I’m not impugning your Christian IQ!  But as I’ve looked around this year, I’ve seen instance after instance of Christians who either don’t know what they believe, or why they believe it.  People claim deep seeded values and practices based on their faith, but they don’t have the understanding that goes with it!  Theology is the deliberate work of understanding God, God’s people, and God’s creation.

2.  WE NEED A ROAD MAP FOR OUR ROAD MAP.

To be effective in ministry, we’ve got to know where we should be going and what we should be doing.  That’s what the Bible is for, right?  Absolutely, but there is so much history, translation, literary criticism, and deep symbolism involved that we need a road map to help us read our road map.  Theology helps us understand the Bible with more clarity, depth and meaning.

3.  WE NEED AN INFORMED ETHIC.

Christians, at our worst, spout values and morals with little thought to the ethical system behind them.  Jesus taught an ethic of service, acceptance, obedience, and action that calls for deeper refection than many of us give.  The more we study God, the stronger a foundation we have to launch our work in the world.

4.  WE NEED MYSTERY.

I think the worst Christians are know-it-alls.  As if every question has been answered, and every shadow has been illuminated. Not so!  The greatest theologians in history published volumes and volumes of their systematic theologies, but that did not mean they’ve “solved” theology.  There’s always more to understand about God.  There are theological concepts, problems, and approaches that you and I have never pondered.  These mysteries give a robustness to our faith, and challenge us as believers!

5.  WE NEED THEOLOGY IN OUR DEVOTION.

After writing these devotions for some fifteen + years, I look back at my writings and see too many of them summed up with a simple “God is Love” punchline.  While I suppose my faith could be summarized in those three words, there is so much more to say.  To that end, I plan to engage a deeper level of theology in my work going forward.  I want to share more study of this learning, direction, ethic, and mystery in my life and my work. 

How about you?  No matter what Word you pick (or don’t pick) for 2018, you can choose to be resolute in your journey to know God, God’s people, and God’s creation. 

Remember, the only qualification for being a Theologian… 

is being a Curious Christian.

Have a great week,

Mitch

(If you’re interested in a place to start, here’s a bit of United Methodist theology:  A Few Methodist Basics)

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