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.
Good word! It’s easy to get full of pride in academics. I’ve found that to be true in my life, the focus should be on loving God and loving others. A life of love is what is important. Thank you for the reminder.
“the focus should be on loving God and loving others.” Wonderfully put. Couldn’t agree more. I think we make it a little harder than it should be. Is this our own fault? A bi-product of our culture?
As someone who went to seminary and now work in the world of theological academia I cannot tell you how important and forgotten 1 Corinthians is.
Love. Always love 🙂
Thanks for your input. I didn’t know you went to seminary, or worked in theological academica. Where was/is this?
I went to Talbot – Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., and I studied Theology. And I now work at a theological association responsible for theological, religious studies, content used at universities and faith-based institutions. (Yeah, not saying the name just in case this comment is linked back to them haha)
I definitely needed this heart check. Thanks for sharing! Also, thanks for your feedback on my post “Fix Me.” I really like your blog too!
Awesome man! Glad you liked it!