April 3, 2008

In Bitter Protest Against Embitterment

So one of my friends is going through some crap right now with his church and he shared it in class. In the end it could be very easy for him to get bitter about the whole situation, hell, with church in general. Then on of my professor's offered some words of advise, I'm not so sure they were encouragement, but he said that life is basically full of disappointments. This principle is especially true in ministry and churches, because there exists different expectations for "God's" people, right?

Well, this got me thinking about my experience in seminary. Sometimes I feel like the three to four years we devote to theological study and training is in preparation for ministry by way of learning to deal with being jaded, burned, and embittered. One of the things I've come to realize is that when we take something we love and place it in a microscope all the time, all of its faults, and deformations come to bear. We're allowed to vocalize all that we think is wrong with the church, ministries, hermeneutics, homiletics, etc. In this setting of constantly and almost overwhelmingly studying God, ministry, and the church it is very easy to get a sense that everything is not "alright."

Life, especially in the ministry, is full of broken relationships that can easily lead to bitterness and mistrust. I think sometimes seminary trains us deal with those feelings, because the real question is how are you going to stop from getting so bitter, frustrated, and jaded that you lose sight of what is really important. Failure is inevitable. The possibility for bitterness is inevitable, no, bitterness is inevitable.

So, the real question is what are you going to do with it?

I ask myself this everyday as I think about theology and my life. I ask myself this every Sunday I drive to our church. I ask this daily in the seminary classroom. What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do when the people you love fail you? When it feels like God is failing you? When you are failing you?

Sometimes it's best to remember that where bitterness may justify our feelings, mistrust can mark our lives, and we can become so jaded to lose touch with our faith, we should always count on love.

In the end, love wins...and sometimes grace pokes its ugly head in the most peculiar of situations.

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