Sunday School: Vol. 2

Monday, August 5, 2019 San Francisco, CA, USA

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
2  P E T E R 1 : 3 - 9

The world easily feels so devoid of hope. From the multiple mass shootings in the past month to the escalating violence in Hong Kong to the general cruelty of those who will simply never learn to forfeit their selfishness, my solitary, little heart feels overwhelmingly broken. With every iteration of "thoughts and prayers," I fill with rage. What, exactly, are you all praying for, if not the courage to seek justice? To stand alongside the oppressed, the immigrant, the unloved?

I know I'm at once shy and bewilderingly hot-tempered, but I love this world and those in it with my entire heart. Grief, then, feels like an inevitable amendment to the human condition, the price we pay for all this love. In a split second of clarity, I understood the devastation of our Creator, how His love dwarfs mine, and therefore his grief, too.

As I've mentioned before, my testimony feels incomplete. I don't know what, exactly, resurrected my faith - I have guesses, none of them valiant or noble or particularly gracious. But I do know that my life has been doubly full of disappointments and rage ever since I chose to surrender to God's will; I've also felt doubly capable to survive them all. Tough love, I'm learning, is Godly and true love. I don't ever want to settle for anything less, ever again (cc: Leona in a few months, trying to be babied by the next guy. Don't do it!)

Below, the lights on my path:

This essay on joy as resistance by Sarah Bessey:
I know I’m not alone in this: we are all carrying each other’s pain this summer, it seems. It feels as if the world is burning down and we feel powerless to help and so we grieve and we get angry and we post things on Facebook, we march and we protest and we gather and we tell politicians what the problem really is, we watch the news and we cry and yell about things and then we look around our daily lives and wonder, am I doing enough to fix it? And is it a betrayal to not feel sad all the time? To not be in despair over the state of the world?
Here’s the thing about Christian joy – it isn’t stupid. Joy is the affirmation of the truest thing of all: redemption, restoration, reconciliation. It’s resistance. It’s a resistance of the false and broken to embrace and practice the true and the whole. We are prophesying with our lives. In the face of poverty, we practice generosity. In the face of ugliness, we practice beauty. In the face of injustice, we practice justice and mercy. In the rhetoric of fear, we declare be not afraid! In the face of racism, we practice reconciliation. In the face of despair, we practice hope. In the face of ignorance, we practice wisdom and knowledge. We name it, we aren’t afraid of it, and then while the Not-Yet looks on in disbelief at our cheek, we set to work putting things as they are-and-will-be.

 This statement written by members of Progressive Asian American Christians, a community for socially, politically, and theologically progressive Asian American and Asia diaspora Christians:
WE BELIEVE that the pursuit of social justice is essential to a life of faith in Jesus and is a present-day calling of the church. The credibility of reconciliation is obstructed when Christian communities proclaim it in a way that perpetuates the separation of its members. In this document, we specifically name discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexuality, and class [2] as perpetuating alienation and enmity to God and between members of humankind. We deny any teaching that appeals to the Gospel to legitimize discrimination, and we proclaim that such separation denies in advance the Gospel’s reconciling power. (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13; Galatians 5:1-15; James 2:8-9; James 4).
  • God placed us in families and in communities. Our God-created nature depends on being connected with and cared for by others (Ruth 1:16-17; Romans 12:5; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • We are inherently social beings.
  • God wills that things are restored, repaid, made whole, and made new here on Earth (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 22:1-7).
  • This is the spirit of justice.
  • God’s will is manifested in societies where the needs of those that don’t have enough are fulfilled by those who have more than enough (Acts 4:32-35). When God walked among us, Jesus taught and lived by this principle (Luke 6:17-26; Luke 19:1-10; Matthew 14:13-21).
  • Things are made right through communities of people.
In other words, God’s will is social justice.

The next installment in Transformation Church's "Relationship Goals" series, Single, Not Alone, on the importance of maximizing our singleness:

One of my greatest fears in life is a bad marriage, which seems counterproductive given that I've been in some sort of relationship for most of the last decade (lol, I know). I always thought that the key to a satisfying marriage (because nobody taught me and I had to figure this out for myself) was lots and lots of practice: learning their love language, putting in the effort, figuring out who you are as a partner. So I've always prided myself on being an increasingly good girlfriend. I'm more patient. I try to be sweet. I get dangerously close to "pick me" territory. But I'm learning - in my early twenties, thankfully, that to put my identity as a partner ahead of my identity as a whole, solitary individual nearly promises disaster and loss of self. This sermon suggests that marriage doesn't improve upon our single selves; it exposes it. Everything we believe, deep down, to be true about ourselves is laid bare in a serious relationship; are we prepared for this?

The Bible Project's 1-Year Reading Plan, which I'm working through at the moment:
As a side note, I prefer reading a physical bible so I can highlight/take notes/cover it in post-its, but the Reading Scripture app is really user-friendly, too!

This resounding insistence that how we treat immigrants is how we treat God:
Many of Christianity’s tenets are inherently illogical and absurd —  a person being fully man and fully God; a person rising from the dead; miracles (like being swallowed alive by a fish); angels and supernatural beings; an afterlife … If Christians can accept these things as true, the basic themes of the gospel: love, joy, peace, kindness, forgiveness, and hope can hardly be questioned. Yet many Christians are failing to abide by these fundamental truths, refusing to follow God’s greatest command. For people claiming the faith of Christ, showing love and compassion to immigrants, no matter their status, is a requirement of following Jesus — there is no alternative.

This poem from Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours:
God, give us each our own death,
the dying that proceeds
from each of our lives:
the way we loved,
the meanings we made,
our need.  

Finally, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan:
If you merely pretend that you enjoy God or love Him, He knows. You can't fool Him; don't even try. Instead, tell Him how you feel. Tell Him that He isn't the most important thing in this life to you, and that you're sorry for that. Tell Him that you've been lukewarm, that you've chosen ___________ over Him time and time again. Tell Him that you want Him to change you, that you long to genuinely enjoy Him. Tell Him how you want to experience true satisfaction and pleasure and joy in your relationship with Him. Tell Him you want to love Him more than anything on this earth. Tell Him you want to treasure the kingdom of heaven so much that you'd willingly sell everything in order to get it. Tell Him what you like about Him, what you appreciate, and what brings you joy. 'Jesus, I need to give myself up. I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own. I can't do it, and I need You. I need You deeply and desperately. I believe You are worth it, that You are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next. I want You. And when I don't, I want to want You. Be all in me. Take all of me. Have Your way with me'.
With love, love, love,

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