Thursday, April 24, 2008

Last Day of Real Classes

I have just walked out of the last class of my undergraduate education (besides finals, but they don't count). It was an appropriate last class, I would say, because it was my favorite class, Theologies of Liberation with Craig Keen, immediately preceded by my other favorite class, Biblical Apocalyptic Literature with Bill Yarchin. You might not expect it, but these classes correlated so well, it was as though they were dancing together all semester long.

I am now and what I know now are the product of my undergraduate education. I am not sure what to do with this, though. I guess I never really considered what it would be like to be in this place, at least not in any real way. I always saw my undergrad education as a future thing, and now that it is essentially a past thing I am in unfamiliar waters.

I think it's worth it for me to mention the pervading idea of my last day of school. Ironically on my final day of real classes, on the day where I might feel some sense of achievement, the one thing that came up in both of my classes today, Biblical Apocalyptic and Theologies of Liberation, was the idea that the church is called to be ineffective. We are called to martyrdom. We are called to abandon our struggle to "change the world" or to "find a solution." When it is about finding a solution, we find reason to step away from the problem because "there's just no way we can do anything about that, it's just too big." If we abandon all our "planning," we will be drawn to the poor, draw to the problem. We will place ourselves there because we are saved by grace. The solution is not ours to worry about, just the action. In doing this, we participate in God's work in the world. If you remember, Jesus was essentially a failure. He really did not change the landscape of the world. Besides the few who met him and watched his life, no one really knew he was there. And somehow this sort of failure became the hope of all the world. This failure became Lord. So if we abandon our fear of failing and simply insist on living the sort of sacrificial life that Jesus lived, if we clothe the naked and feed the poor, we are entering into salvation. We are "succeeding."

On a similar note, Bill Yarchin hinted today that scholarship is, in itself, a sort of martyrdom (not to put it in a place it does not belong). You get to a point, and I am experiencing this, where you learn so much that you discover that you'll never ever be able to get to everything that's out there. There' just too much, too many levels, too many components, of whatever it is you're trying to study. You see the mountains of information and nuances and you find that failure is inevitable. But instead of being paralyzed, when you discover that you are a failure, you are empowered. You reach a point where you say, "ok, I'm fine with that" and you just enjoy.

I am not what I know. I do not need to be effective. I just need to run to Jesus for he knows how.

2 comments:

Mike DeVries said...

So, you had to read The YouthBuilder? You should get some kind of medal or extra credit for that one...

WES ELLIS said...

Mike,
haha. I know, really. Burns is pretty good, but that other guy...
I'm kidding. of all the bad youth ministry books I've read, that one is by far the least nauseating.