Friday, October 21, 2011

Scot McKnight, One.Life and More about Empathy

I finished my first reading of Scot McKnight's book, One.Life.  It is in the vein of some recent books, like David Platt's, calling Christian's to think more radically and "gospel-ishly" about their spiritually lives.  I like the book and recommend it, although all these books cost too much.  If someone wants to borrow it from me and lives nearby, let me know.  Interestingly, he uses Bonhoeffer at the end and I just finished one of Bonhoeffer's books this week also.  I hope to start Cost of Discipleship

Making these truths practical in one's life, especially at my age, however, is difficult.  I am seriously contemplating returning to doctoral work at 56, with the hope I'll be done by 60.  Is this what God wants me to do?  Should I not see, or what is really Christ' (not sure how I feel about McKnight's cute punctuation) as only one of service and not one of preparation?  Will having the doctorate help the kingdom?  If I don't do it, will I look back and sixty and feel I had wasted those three or four years and an opportunity?  What if my mother gets very sick or my husband, or one of them dies?  It's hard to know at my age what might happen in the future, but does uncertainty keep one from making plans?

However, I appreciate that the members of this generation, who have been coddled but also neglected in some ways, are being called to sacrifice, just as we were 30 years ago, but in a different way.  Ours was to evangelize; today it is to relieve suffering and evangelize, to do both because both are right, not just to relieve suffering so you get to evangelize.

On another note, he writes elegantly about repentance, which relates to the previous post about empathy.  People confuse repentance with feeling bad.  Feeling bad about your sin may accompany repentance, and probably should, but it's not repentance.  Repentance is 180 degree turn, living in light of knowing you did wrong and knowing there is a right way to do it.  Morality is not so gray as people want to make it.  I can feel sorry about how my mouth might hurt another, but until my words are sweet and refreshing and no longer bitter and hurtful, my feeling sorry about them only keeps me feeling bad, and it becomes all about feelings.  I can be as emotional as the next person, but in some ways I am a behaviorist.  What one does ultimately is what matters, not what one feels.   Commitment is action, not intention.   I intend to eat healthy and drop 20 lbs.  I haven't yet. 

Yes, God knows our hearts; we are always assured of that, and that at the last judgment our motivation will be what matters.  But come on, let's stop kidding ourselves.  We ultimately do what we want to do. 

I'll never forget the news report of a woman who was being reunited with her child whom she had abandoned 20 years before.  She had left the child in a basket at the grocery store and just disappeared.  The child was about two, was taken into custody, lived in the system, and was eventually adopted and raised.  The abandoning mother said, "I love my child."  Yeah, right.  Now I know that some will respond to me and say, "You don't understand, she probably just couldn't afford to raise the child,  she was desperate, blah blah blah."  Very true, but abandonment to strangers and the dangers that might befall a child (who could easily have been kidnapped or murdered) is hardly love, and if she had loved, she would have repented.  Biblical Love is a verb, not a feeling. 

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