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November 21, 2008

Big Lessons in Small Settings

Big Lessons in Small Settings

To keep up with tradition I will give the count down for the rest of the semester. There is exactly one week left. Over the past eleven weeks, we have done a lot (as previous blogs show). Considering everything, what will probably impact me the most is what I have learned in small groups. Over the semester, the guys have been looking at the gospel and how it should affect our daily lives. While there is much that could be shared, I will pick out what has really stood out to me...

First out is the time we spent looking at calling. Calling is an important, yet mysterious part of everybody's life. It is important because calling deals with where we fit best in the world around us. However, it is mysterious because it is different for each person. Determining what it looks like on the individual level is hard. As we read a chapter from Os Guinness' book, The Call, a new thought jumped out at me. Let me quote him: "First and foremost we are called to Someone, not to something or to somewhere." In other words, Calling is primarily about following God, not what vocation you pursue. What a freeing thought! While it doesn't answer all questions, it puts our focus where it ought to be, on the Caller.

Secondly, I was shaped by the lecture we listened to on the law. Some background might be helpful. There are two approaches to living out the gospel. We can either act like orphans or sons. Orphans try to live the gospel life on their own. Often, they end up replacing God with the law. As they try to prove their own goodness (by how well they keep the law), they replace the righteousness that Christ has freely given them. Using the law to motivate change replaces the Holy Spirit's work. Finally, if people keep the law to make life better, the law replaces the Father's care for us. By trying to be a good Christian, orphans have accidentally slipped into idolatry!

This ties into the third lesson that I have learned from our small group: how to use the Father's love. This is what has been the most encouraging thing for me. When I came to the semester, I lived like an orphan. For the most part, the law had practically replaced God in my live. Through the small groups and talks with Eric, I have been learning to accept, trust and rest in my Heavenly Father's love. Even better, I have realized that I have a great example of that love in my earthly Father. He is always reminding me that "No matter what you do, I will still love you." There have been a couple times that I have called home disappointed with how life was going. After giving advice on how deal with my problems, dad would have two questions for me. "Do you know that I love you? Do you know that I am proud of you?" He's not saying that he doesn't care how I live. The time that he has put into teaching me how to live makes that obvious. Rather, by reminding me of his love my dad is telling me that I don't need to earn his love. I already have it! That is exactly what my Heavenly Father's love is like. I already have it and nothing I do will make Him love me more or less! As I have begun to enjoy that love, life has gained new joy. That is worth as much or more than academic knowledge I have gained this semester.

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