Thursday, February 8, 2007

An Analogy

The most frustrating part of writing a thesis is choosing a topic. At least, I think that's the most frustrating part. My last attempt at a thesis ended out of frustration with that step, so I really don't know about the frustrations that follow. At any rate, I am currently at that frustrating point in my thesis work.

Today, I spent about four hours researching a possible topic before deciding that it was not going to be possible to do. So I went on to another possible topic and spent the next four hours researching it. While I realize that those first four hours were progress because, without them, I would not have been able to narrow my topic. But it still felt like four wasted hours.

As I reflect on my life's spiritual journey, I see the same dynamic playing out on a larger scale. I spent the first 25 or so years of my life aggressively pursuing a spiritual path that was increasingly restrictive, judgmental, and legalistic. I mistook an increasing tendency to condemn others with a stronger faith. I went to school so that I could more effectively teach others this poor theology. I pursued a career in converting people to this invalid way of thinking. I am now growing in my understanding of God's grace and its implications for Christian liberty. I am connecting in greater ways with the unity emphasis of my denomination's heritage. I see my former path as unfruitful and in conflict with Christ at its very core. So I have abandoned it.

While I understand that many positive lessons were learned during the first 25 years of my life, and that those years were used by God in my spiritual formation. In spite of this realization, I can't help from time to time but feel like I have wasted time and energy on false theology.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Fantastic analogy, Jeff. You’ve obviously been thinking a lot about your thesis and a lot about your Jesus journey. It’s amazing how God will speak to our hearts through the most unlikely of circumstances.

And how this for an analogy: the place where your thesis struggle leads you and the place where your theological dissonance leads you will, I trust, be similar – namely, God’s glory and your enjoyment – the first question of the Westminster catechism.

Blessings for your study and your journey!