Friday, June 30, 2006

"Why Don't People Understand My Specific Passions?" you ask. I answer.

There's something about breakfast, church, and "fellowship" (fellowship is like Jello - there's always more room for it.). I had my first regular morning breakfasts with one of my Pastors while I was still in high school. His name was Dave Spooner, and he was a great guy that I still touch base with from time to time. I guess I inherited the concept that breakfast is a good thing to minister and hang out during - and to plan over - from him.

This morning I had breakfast with a student that is going to Bible College in the fall. I can completely track with the thoughts that he's having right now, and I'm excited for him. I'm in Bible College right now (err... North Central University, formerly North Central Bible College). It was great to hear this student's passion for holiness, passion for Christ to be proclaimed, taught, and focused on in the church, and passion for the Holy Spirit. It was also a very recent memory in my life to hear frustration in his voice that represented unspoken words - "why the crap don't people have the same passions I do?!"

Our calling and our passion are very dear to us all, Christian and non-Christian. We all call them different things. Some will use the terminology of dream job, others will use passion, focus, vision - the list goes on. But you'll find very few people in life whose passions will closely mirror yours. A passion to pursue and focus on a different part of the goodness of God is essentially why we have different denominations; very few orthodox groups hold what I would deem terrible theology. Most represent an honest attempt to communicate a systematic understanding of Scripture and the nature of God. Mine is just better than... everyone else's.

This student has decided that the Nazarene Church holds beliefs that are closest to his. I can live with that - they have a remarkable emphasis on holiness and come from the same branch of the Fundamentalist tree that emerged in the 1880's as the Assemblies of God, the zany pentecostals I swing with.

The distinctive theology of the Nazarenes is their belief in Sanctification (I think it is #14 and #15 on the previous link I put up. In my opinion their focus is noteworthy, but their belief in instantaneous sanctification is based on the false premise that sin can't inhabit a being inhabited by God. Sickness and decay of the body - the ultimate manifestations of the fall of man and prevenient sin - prove that one can indeed have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and... hmmm... I struggle to word this, a manifestation of evil (God still wins in the end, we're still saved, not dissing sick people as I myself get sick!). I don't believe sanctification is instant. I believe that it is a process, a dedication that must be constant. So I admire their emphasis but I think they're a bit off. Wouldn't stop me from going to a Nazarene Church though - that would be their architecture that stops me from going. Jesus is probably mad at them for painting his home town, Nazareth, as that "blah."

Getting back to my original thoughts, it's so interesting that we do all have different passions. It makes sense though, especially from the body perspective of Paul. We all need blood - every organ uses it. But only marrow makes blood. You could say it is marrow's passion. Only the heart pumps blood. Only the brain thinks. Only the nerves reflex. Only the eyes see. Yet every other system needs blood, the entire body reacts to sensory input, and the entire body is regulated and responds to the brain.

The next time you find yourself frustrated that everyone else doesn't have the same passion you do, remember that God doesn't want his body to be a Siamese twin with two heads, two hearts, an extra lung, etc. Thank Him that he's given you your passions - your place in the body - and then get out there and do something with it.

It's not that other people don't get you, it's that we're retarded and don't get them.

Oh, as I close, the image of us inserting our passions into others came through to me in a little picture just now like Dr. Moreau on his island genetically splicing people together, creating freaks. Yup, God is better than we are at deciding what gifts others have.

So, what do we as the church need to do better in expressing, nurturing, and "creating" passion?
  • Actively assess the gifts of others. This is practical! I get sick of people asking me if I know someone who is good at "x" or "y". We're all around people, some of us are just more observant. Take a handle on things and keep a lookout yourself. And of course, ask others :).
  • Show an appreciation of God's gifts. The legitimate ones (there are some dumb things people try to pass off as gifts) only. Make fun of all others. Let people know how valuable what they do is to other people and to God.
  • Encourage other people as they find their gifts.
  • Encourage people to ask for gifts, you know, like the Bible says. This more specifically relates to spiritual gifts.
  • Realize that you might sharpen gifts in others, but you will never create a gift. What we need to do better is not try to be creators of people. Don't try to be Dr. Moreau. Navy Seals will kill you.


Anonymous said...

So, are you saying that my gifts of criticism and judgment aren't legitimate spiritual gifts? :-) Here are the questions that plaque me. What's the difference between a college and a university? I thought I knew but my theory has been proven wrong. Also, is the architecture in all Nazarene Churches the same? I went to a Nazarene college, which is now a university, and I don't recall particularly boring architecture. Of course, it was on the ocean so my vision might have been diverted by the handiwork of God.

Matthew Nowlin said...

There is no such gift. The gift of recognizing potential exists though, so let's call it that!

A college offers only one focus. A university is made up of colleges/departments. For example, NCU has Theology, Pastoral Studies, Youth Studies, Psychology, Business, El Ed, and other areas.

As for Nazarene Architecture, a college will typically beat out an A-Frame Nazarene Church any day of the week. And that is what most Nazarene Churches are, boring A frame buildings.

Anonymous said...

The thing about spiritual gifts that we don't do a good job of talking about in evangelicalism is that some gifts, such as those specifically mentioned in the NT, are given to some people. However, there are some things that certain people are passionate about that the rest of the Body should also be passionate about. Evangelicals in general would do well to people who advocate holistic relief and development in third world countries, even though not everyone is passionate about that topic. It's not as though that topic is a "spiritual gift" that has been given to some people and not others; rather, some people have seen the teaching of God in the scripture and are acting on that. Other areas, such as giving, structure and purpose of the church, etc. could also fall under this area.

Anonymous said...

I've struggled with the same thoughts. Its nice to see I'm not the only one. Thanks for the insight.
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