The Hebrews study

As usual, the grad student Bible study last week just totally blowed me away and showed me why I’m a sinner. The study was basically on the entire books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. Anyway, the idea was this: there are two things that can motivate us – personal success or faithfulness to God. And these things are opposed; they’re not necessarily exclusive, but our motivation tends to be one or the other. And obviously, if we’re motivated by the first it’s sin.

Anyway, if you read through Jeremiah you find that basically for his entire ministry, every time the word of God comes to him, and he is called to lead a people to repentance, they never do. And this group of people pretty much encompasses everyone – the king, the princes, the people, the priests, and the prophets. The last 2 groups are the most disturbing because you’d think they’d be on his side, but no, they pretty much want to shut him up also. Most of the time, he’s put into prison. Anyway, this mostly happens because everyone has a preconceived notion of what God is like. In particular, they think that God would never let the temple be destroyed, or let Babylon take them over.

Anyway, the point is, Jeremiah wasn’t successful at all by worldly standards, because every time he tried to get people to repent, they never ever did. So by worldly terms, he was a failure. But, he obviously wasn’t a failure, really – but the only way in which we can consider him a success is by his faithfulness to what God has called him to do.

Anyway, the study cites Micah 6:6-8 and various passages from Paul showing that first, God only wants us to be faithful to Him, not to bring Him stuff or bring Him our success, just be faithful. The Paul passages show that all the successes he had (not just worldly but even ministry wise) he didn’t care about so much as being faithful to God’s calling for him. (cf Acts 20:24) So we need to be faithfulness oriented, not results oriented.

That’s pretty much a kick in the butt for me, because you know, I, as I’m sure most people, judge how successful I’m being in my “ministry” by how successful the ministry is doing. But that’s sin. Not to desire success in ministry, but to base how well I’m doing on that. What God really wants is for us to be faithful, regardless of how things go, like Jeremiah. And our success is not based on results in our life.

Basically we gotta be more like John Yoon and keep meeting with people who never seem to be coming any closer.

So since being results oriented and faithfulness oriented are opposed, my claim is that if we’re being flaky with things, we’re being results oriented (or just lazy, or both). Furthermore, my claim is that if we’re jumping from activity to activity it’s because we’re being results oriented, which is sin, rather than faithfulness oriented, because it’s pretty much impossible to be faithful with what we’ve been given when we keep jumping to different activities.

Of course, we need to be faithful to God, not activities. But I think generally, if God has really called us to certain activities, it’s pretty inconceivable that He would not call us to be wholeheartedly faithful to those to the end. There is a time to move on from things, but that’s probably the exception.

Anyway, there are certain activities it’s pretty clear I think that we need to be faithful in, like with witnessing. I remember freshman year I had pretty bold dreams with my roommate, you know, that he would be saved soon. I made some pretty bold claims to him about it. But I totally flaked on that, I mean, I pretty much never talked to him again. It pains me that I said certain things to him and then flaked like that. Sin.

Anyway, I’m pretty much a totally flaky guy, so it was a kick in the butt for me. Like I said, though, it challenged me, and I’m trying to see how I can be more faithful in my “ministry.” For one, I’m definitely staying at KCPC next year. The next couple paragraphs are pretty much just for Dave. So, yeah, I want to be faithful with the grad bible study for one, and although it’s not really a KCPC thing, it kind of came together under the auspices of FiCS, and I would feel weird changing that. The group basically came together because of FiCS, and if the same thing happens next year, that grad students come and desire some sort of fellowship, I would want there to be something for them. I can think of specific people already.

Anyway, that group is important to me, and I do want some outlet for reaching out to other grad students, and I think the group is a great possibility. John shares this sentiment, and he’ll be here next year too, so that will be good.

And I want to be faithful with the church also. I mean, there are many things wrong with the church, as there are in many churches, but I don’t know. I feel like at least right now, it’s not hindering my “ministry” so much that I absolutely have to go. Oh by the way, a side note. There was this question and answer session at FiCS about a month ago with the EM pastors and leadership and the question arose about like, how next year as they’re working how will they be able to bring their friends to a Korean church. I don’t know, this question just struck me as really really odd, because, I mean, this is something we’ve had to deal with for all of our lives, right? It’s not suddenly different next year; it’s something we should have been dealing with all our lives, I mean, most of us have been going to Asian churches all our lives. So we should keep doing what we have been doing with our non-Asian friends all our lives. Anyway, sorry, I could go on, I just thought it was weird.

So yeah, I want to be faithful with the church. I went home last week and talked to my dad about it, told him a lot of things I’m feeling and in the end, he pretty much still wanted me to be faithful to the church, even with all the things I said. That kind of made an impact. Also I had this conversation with Susan Cho Van Riesen a while ago, talking about church and she was saying how this lame thing about Korean churches is how the people never say anything when they are bothered by things and then ultimately they just leave and how that leads to so many lame problems. Anyway, ooh should I talk about this? Well what happens is that people leave churches because of like a pastor they don’t like and then that pastor leaves and then problems happen with the new church but they can’t go back to the old place and the people they have old relationships with because they’ve left. It’s just messy.

Anyway, another thing to is I do feel like I should be faithful with relationships, especially since that’s something I suck at, and a lot of those are through church. I don’t want to leave and then make it a lot harder. People probably don’t really care about me, but still, John Yoon inspires me.

Last thing is, I haven’t done a thing to try and change things at church even though I’m bothered by many things. I don’t know, that seems lame to me that’s I’ve done nothing. That can’t be right. Anyway, I don’t want to set a precedent for myself of just church-hopping when things suck. I don’t know – if I have to leave I will, but I guess I feel like right now I don’t have to so I shouldn’t.

That said, I still know I’m gonna leave eventually because of theological things. Pretty hypocritical, huh? Yeah Henry, go blast me for my hypocrisy. It’s true. But I don’t know, that’s just how I feel. I guess I’m just a weirdo.

I really do hope people made it down here because I just remembered a verse from the Bible study that I want to share about our focus, faith versus being results. It’s cool for various reasons. One of them is the last verse, which you can see.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls–
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And he will make me walk on my high hills.

To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

The book of Habakkuk is a song! And he owned string instruments! That’s a funky book of prophecy. We should try setting Haggai to song.

Anyway, Bible study has been great. I really feel like we always get down to pertinent points, and don’t just go through it. It’s been a blessing.

Junior and Senior year I took Spanish 3 Honors and Spanish 4 AP with Mrs. Serrania. Those were good times. Spanish was pretty good at Bell – a lot of people got 4s and 5s on the AP test. They just prepared us well for it. Anyway, I enjoyed Spanish.

Junior year, though, I remember it being really frustrating. The thing about Spanish 1 and 2 is that they gave us a bunch of rules about the language and that’s basically all we knew, and they were all valid. So I mean, when you learn a language, it seems like it’s just like Math – you get a bunch of rules and you can use words according to them and it’s really regular. I think any time you learn a language, that’s how they start out. They teach you some patterns and then you learn to use those patterns with different words.

Junior year is when you realize that the patterns aren’t really all there. Like there are tons of exceptions to the rules, and you find out that real people don’t really speak like you’ve been taught, I mean it’s kind of true, but the rules aren’t really “rules,” just more like tendencies. Does this make any sense? I can’t remember any specific examples. But it’s stuff like you learn that in Spanish the adjectives come after the noun unless there’s multiple ones and stuff like that. After a while you realize that there are really very few hard and fast rules.

Oh wait, I think I remember an example. So freshman and sophomore year we learn the conjugation for “gustar.” Like, “a mi me gusta tocar la guitarra.” It’s kind of a funky verb because its conjugation doesn’t depend on the subject, but on the direct object. So it’s “a mi me gusta el gato” and “a mi me gustan los gatos.” So anyway, we learn as a rule, the only forms of gustar are gusta and gustan.

Except that wasn’t true, and junior and senior year, our teacher tells us that you can say, for example, “A mi me gustas.” I remember arguing bitterly about this. That makes no sense. In Spanish 1 we learned that gustar is only used with objects, and you use like amar or something else to show that you like other people. So it doesn’t make sense to use gustar in regards to a person. And I remember arguing about it a lot with her, my Spanish 3 / 4 teacher. It just makes no sense based on everything we’ve learned. And it didn’t follow the rule. It made no sense. So I argued about it.

Anyway, it’s pretty obvious how absurd that was, that I was telling my Spanish teacher, a native Cuban, what correct Spanish is or what it should be like. She was obviously right and I was obviously wrong, because even if it didn’t make sense, that’s just the way Spanish is. The thing about languages it that you can argue as much as you want about how it should be or what makes sense based on what you’ve learned, but it doesn’t matter, because in the end, it just is the way it is, whether it makes sense or whether that’s logical to you or not.

So like all my school experiences I gained insight from this. OK, maybe it’s not really insightful but it’s been helpful to me – God is a lot like language. Sometimes the stuff we believe just doesn’t seem to make sense based on our logical understanding. Especially as I read about liberal Christianity, I find that a lot. That you know, certain things shouldn’t be that way so they just don’t believe it. But I really believe that it doesn’t matter what we think should or shouldn’t be; in the end, it just is.

So it’s a delicate balance because we can’t fully depend on our logical facilities to make conclusions about God, but fundamentally the only thing that makes sense to me is that if we were to understand anything about God, we could only know by Him telling us, not because we figure anything out about Him. And that’s what Jesus is, right? God speaking to us, telling us who He is. So yeah, sometimes things don’t seem to make sense, but oh well, that’s just the way it is, and it’s pretty absurd to argue about it. And the more you learn about God, like learning a language, it’s just accepting how God is, what He says it is.

Maybe you think that’s lame but it’s made a lot of sense to me as I’ve waded through a bunch of ideas of what God is in my life.

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