Thoughts from the Pastor

They Will Know

A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. ~ John 13: 34-35

One of the many things I appreciated about my time at Bethany Theological Seminary was the constant reminder by the professors and faculty to get God out of our heads and into our hands.  No, they were not encouraging us to stop thinking about God, but they understood quite well that when you study scripture and God in an academic setting, there is the possibility to treat faith as solely an intellectual exercise.  We can sometimes forget that Christianity isn’t simply about belief but also about living.

     I came across the same sentiment recently in a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called An Altar in the World.  She puts it this way, “in an age of information overload…the last thing any of us needs is more information about God. We need the practice of incarnation, by which God saves the lives of those whose intellectual assent has turned them dry as dust, who have run frighteningly low on the bread of life, who are dying to know more God in their bodies.  Not more about God. More God.”

     In Jesus, God choose the way of incarnation. God came in the flesh so that we might more intimately know God. Before Jesus the people professed that God was indeed a God of love but through Jesus that belief about God became an experience of God. In the John passage above, Jesus is calling us to be a people of incarnation too.  In fact, Christ proclaims that it is through embodying the love of God in our very lives that people will come to know us as the very disciples of God incarnate.

    For me there is an uncomfortable truth in this realization. I have spent much of my life studying scripture in an academic setting in order to become a Pastor.  But ultimately how the world will know we are disciples is not through our degrees, or professional titles, not even our professed beliefs.  There are many in our congregation who inspire me with their living. Many who practice incarnational living and teach me what it looks like to truly love one another.  I am honored to be a Pastor, to be your Pastor, to share what I have learned and to wrestle with you as we think about our faith.  However, I pray you learn from one another as well. May we inspire one another to love more deeply and fully, to be an incarnational people who show the world whose we are, through our love. Blessings, ~ Pastor Nathan