A couple nights ago, one of my best friends sent me a text:
I was reading 1st Corinthians the other night and came across one of my favorite verses… it reminds me a lot of you and what I think is a major message you are tying to get across to other Christians.
He had my attention. Finding myself in scripture? I’ve given up on that. I find God; I find ancient people with worn stories. I find context and complexity. I don’t find myself.
I used to, but not anymore.
A side-effect of embracing the academic faith? No doubt. My spiritual journey of debates and alternate perspectives is what I know now.
Why would I be in scripture? I don’t need that any more.
The next text came through and my eyes filled with tears.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but a croaking, rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
I hesitated sharing this. Have I accomplished this? No way. Has anyone? Probably not.
We don’t find ourselves in scripture, but scripture finds us. It speaks to us. It grabs us and leads us. Scripture reveals the bits and pieces of us that God is shaping.
My friend Scott thought of me when he read this passage of Paul. I was honored, yet felt more like an impostor. I’m no man of love; more often than not, I fall into the “croaking, rusty gate” category.
My attitudes as of late… I think I’ve lost my way.
The Folly of Academic Faith
In these moments, I’m reminded of the folly of academic faith. We get so wrapped up in ideas. We get wrapped up in our heads, in ourselves. Beautiful simplicity—all too often, we forget it.
This last year I’ve been obsessed with meanings: Heaven, Hell, gay marriage, politics, gender roles, you get the idea.
It’s been rewarding—I would say I prefer it—though I must be cautious.
The academic faith. It’s a door to a man-made mansion with rooms added daily. We’ll never fully explore it, nor will we ever find our way back. Unless, of course, we mark our steps with love.
A warning to all of you like me. Though we yearn for debates and arguments, and we feel as if we must always dive to the bottom of every issue and search endlessly for every solution, we must not forget love.
Thank you Scott for sending me those kind words, and the wonderful reminder.
A Modern Day Pharisee.