Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Semester in review

On Thursday, I'll take my final for World Religions and be officially done with semester #1. It's hard to believe--it's been more challenging in some respects than I thought, easier in some than I imagined, too.

I've found it difficult to blog about what I've been learning because I'm learning so much. It's as if I want the information to sink in, to germinate and grow, to mature. Through World Religions, I've come to appreciate and understand the complexity of life in other cultures and the meaning that differing religious beliefs have in the lives of others.

As Christians, of course, we believe that allegiance to Jehovah through the person of Christ is the only way to true faith and religion. Yet, we can learn through the holistic, community approaches of other cultures, we can see that meditating on God's truth and His Word are important areas we neglect, we can realize how our materialistic culture crowds our soul, how we need silence and solitude to truly commune with God.

In Spiritual Formation class, we've learned that "the only way up is down," from Miles Stanford. The very things we avoid as we seek to control our lives are the things that help to shape us spiritually. We began to realize that the "perichoresis" of the Trinity, the perfect relationship, beckons our heart to relationship--and that our best relationships here just make us ache for the union that is to come in heaven.

From my Spiritual Formation in community paper:
The real need of each soul is a genuine connectedness to God and others. When a believer freely receives connection, discipline and structure, accountability, grace and forgiveness, support and strengthening, he or she naturally grows from a human-centered, self-protective life to a spirit-inspired life where personal needs are met and the individual is able to freely offer up his or her gifts to strengthen and enhance the work of the Body of Christ. (How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals about Personal Growth. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001), 122-132.)

In simpler words, we can't do this on our own. We receive and give God's love to each other only when we participate in community. Something is sadly lacking when we don't. And we certainly never become everything God intends for us to be.

Next semester will bring new opportunities for growth through The Principles and Practice of Prayer and Intercultural Ministry courses. I keep wishing for my theology courses to fit into my class schedule, but today I realized that each of my classes schools me in theology,  teaches me how to know God and to practice His presence in my life. The journey is rich, and I hope you'll share it with me, friends.
"...for most of us...the reason we exist is to serve ourselves. Or to serve our families. Or to serve God. Nothing could be further from the truth. We do not exist to work. We do not exist to evangelize. We do not exist to marry & raise children. We do not exist to make the world a better place. The reason we exist is to be in fellowship with God." 
 ~Randy Kilgore

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