Albert Shim is one of the people I love. But he this way of saying throwaway phrases that really hit me. He is the most understatedly eloquent person I know. For example, I remember one time the Berkeley seniors came to Stanford to hang out and we were sharing, and he was saying how his prayer life was “sloppy.” That’s all he said, but it made me think hours and hours about prayer. A sloppy prayer life. That’s just one of the most interesting phrases I have ever heard.
This came to mind because he did it again at Senior Retreat. I was telling him that I didn’t know his parents were such new believers, and I asked him how they came to Christ, and he said, he didn’t really know. They had always gone to church. I guess it was “the weight of truth.” Just a simple phrase, but dang, for some reason I was deeply moved. It floored me. The weight of truth. Albert Shim. I love you.
I appreciate my Philosophy classes because it always makes me think about Christianity and my own faith. And one thing that has been on my mind is how the world ridicules the Christian faith for being illogical, contradictory, and paradoxical. And I think to be honest, when you really think about it, the faith is paradoxical (though not illogical nor contradictory). And for this the world mocks it or rejects it.
My exposure to philosophy is admittedly limited, but I have had enough to know that when the world rejects Christianity for this reason, they just haven’t thought themselves at all about deeper issues. I say this because modern philosophy is by and large an exclusively worldly affair, but it is dominated by paradoxes and contradictions. In fact, take any philosophy class, and I guarantee you will spend time talking about the “problem.” Problem I think is just a euphemistic way to say paradox or contradiction. For example, the mind/body problem, the problem of personal identity, the problem of free will, the problem of knowledge, the problem of perception, the problem of memory, the problem of induction, etc. Philosophy, an exclusively worldly affair, is dominated by “problems.” And no one seems to have a problem with this. And I think that these problems are real if you really think you issues of human existence, even on a worldly level. You can say that your world is logical and non-problematic, but that to me just shows that you refuse to really deeply think about underlying issues. Even science is no refuge. There is a whole field on the Philosphy of Science, again dominated by problems. Foremost of which I think are the problems that science assumes the uniformity of nature and induction, which are unjustified assumptions. So even in the world, when you think things through, you’ll find that your world view is ultimately riddled with paradoxes and contradictions.
Which is why the rejection of Christianity because of its paradoxical nature irks me. I mean, reject it for some other reason, but not because of this, since the worldly view is just as paradoxical. It’s actually worse, because there is nothing you can know, since paradox in the world means the justification of an idea is unsettled.
The only argument that is mildly satisfying is that rejecting Christianity leaves less paradox that with it. Which I might be able to accept. But not the idea that the Christian world view is paradoxical, and the worldly view is not. That’s just not true.
Where the Christian has the advantage is that the paradox of knowledge doesn’t mean everything is uncertain. Because we believe that God has revealed his truth to us, and that we can depend on this. Regardless of whether you are a believer or not, I think philosophy shows that the wisdom of man ultimately comes to a standstill and uncertainty. It’s meaningless. One might argue that we just don’t know the answers to these problems yet, but it seems to me that philosophy just continues to bring up more and more problems and less and less compelling answers. The problems are more famous than the answers nowadays in any case. So the wisdom of man will fail, and to me that’s pretty clear.
The option most people take is just don’t think about it. Live your life day to day, and don’t really think about life. And all power to them. But the Christian can think about these things and not go crazy because of God’s word. Because God has chosen to reveal His truth to us through His Son. Does this sound cheesy? I don’t know. I just feel more and more, that the more philosophy I learn, the gladder I am that I am a Christian, because I couldn’t live thinking that everything is so uncertain. It’s not. And human wisdom is unsettling. But the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all true wisdom.
So people bag on Philosophy because it’s not a real subject. But it’s at least helped me understand I think more about the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. That’s a good thing, right?
I’ve also been thinking about the parable about the talents. To one the master gives five, another two, the last one. And his answer to the first two are the same: “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” The word repeated there is “faithful.” I think that says a lot about what we should be like in regards to our ministry. We need to be marked by faithfulness. I think regardless of whether we choose to do a lot or a little, we better be faithful. And I think there is no greater compliment we can be given, than to be remembered as being faithful to the tasks we were given, for the long run, not just when it was easy or in the beginning, and when we didn’t feel like doing it anymore, even when we felt our ministry was elsewhere, being faithful to the end, and having the wisdom to know when the end is. Of course, this is coming from a pretty unfaithful guy, but I still think it’s true.
Actually, I am going to toot my horn. But in regards to worship team, the past three years, yeah I think I’ve been pretty faithful. I was always there, and am the only one that’s stuck through it the whole time, at least at Stanford. I hear you Henry, that I don’t have it as bad as you, but I take the opportunity to miss now, because I’ve paid my dues and my time has come. Before, I couldn’t, and now that I can, I will. Because the time commitment involved is just unbelievable. But I’ve been faithful, I think, even when I was thrust in a position I didn’t volunteer for, and when it took a lot of time and interfered with my “other ministries,” even though I didn’t ask to lead, I stuck with it, not just doing it, but making worship, and the desire to see God’s people and more give true woship to God, a priority and focus. I could go on, but I think that was enough to forfeit my riches in heaven.
I’ve also come to realize that there are very few true servants in our fellowships. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of willing people, and most everyone has good hearts, but when it comes to being a true servant, I can think of only a handful at most, and I am definitely not among them. There’s an attitude I’ve noticed, maybe I’m wrong about this, but I see that people are pretty faithful with things they are in charge of and involved with, but almost not at all with anything else. But what irks me is when people get annoyed or discouraged that other people don’t get involved with their activities when they have a whole lot of problems being involved with stuff that isn’t their own. I’m afraid to give an example without being too specific. I have a lot of respect for people who go out to prayer meetings and church gardening and cleanup and church prayer meeting and all that stuff (I am not one of these people). I just think sometimes that these are the true servants of the church. They don’t do these things because they are responsible for them, but they just do. Does that make sense? I really admire that, and it’s something I wish I could be. Because I’m not right now.
Anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re in charge of something and people don’t show up or just a few, before you get discouraged or angry, just think about how faithful you’ve been to other people’s things. I think I’ve gone the wrong approach, because now when people don’t show up I don’t challenge my own faithfulness, I just don’t care that people aren’t there because who am I to talk. Like coming on time to FiCS on Fridays. A lost cause. I just don’t care anymore. But anyway, I’m working on my faithfulness, but I’m sorry if it’s a slow process. At least it’s on my mind, right?
Mark, I basically disagree with most of what you said about sisters in Christ. There is in fact a very good real rational reason for being detached from sisters in Christ. They are the enemy. Also girls and guys can’t ever really be friends, so why even bother. That sounds cynical but when you get down to it, that’s the truth. And hey I’ll be honest I’m a dirty dog and I talk to a lot of girls. But I’m realistic about it. I don’t expect my friendships with girls to last a really long time. Then again I don’t expect that of my guy friendships either but that’s another story.
Anyway, if you feel tense talking to a girl, I think there’s a reason for that. It’s because you’re being dirty. I think if you weren’t being dirty, you wouldn’t feel tense. Like Phil Sung, he brought stuff for all the sophomore sisters. I thought, how dirty. But he didn’t, because he actually brought stuff for all the sophomores. So bringing stuff for the sisters was, in his mind, not dirty. And it wasn’t.
Speaking of which, Phil, why are you trying to drag George’s name through the mud? You don’t need to tell everyone how dirty George is. We all knew that already.
Can I just say how glad I am that I am not a girl? Girls just play all these games with each other, I don’t understand how they can stand it. Guys are often superficial, I’ll give you that. But we play a lot less of those games.
You know, Pastor Harold gave 3 great messages this weekend. I mean, really really good stuff. The thing is, to be honest, I didn’t think he was that great before. I mean, there were diamonds there, but mostly rough. So I’m wondering what it is. Was it my hard heart last year that prevented me from getting more from his sermons? Or was it he just got better? I’m not sure. At any rate, great messages this weekend.
Also, one of the highlights of my life came this weekend. After a great prayer time, one of the best confessional prayer times I’ve had ever, we had some praise time, and me and Albert Shim led together. It was the best. For several reasons. First, I love Albert a lot. He’s taught me a great deal also on the focus and thrust of worship. It’s always a joy when I help him lead worship. Second, Albert knows all the right chords, even the spicy dicey ones, and we played them all together. It’s just a good feeling to be totally together with someone, it’s like a psychic symbiosis, even when you haven’t prepared in advance. It was also cool because we went tag team. He’d lead one song, then look to me, and I’d go into the next song, and back and forth. Very cool. Also, it followed a really good time of prayer, and that always makes praise better. Tag team praise with Albert Shim. Good stuff.