Prayer

This is a concluding prayer of the prior three post entitled Loving God Completely, Loving Ourselves Correctly and Loving Others Compassionately.

“Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us; for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly; for thine own sake.” [1]- Attributed to St. Richard of Chichester (1197–1253).  Adapted by Kenneth Boa.

 

[1] Kenneth Boa. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001), Google Play edition, 31.

Loving Others Compassionately

Once we identify as being in loving relationship with God and his family, our actions will flow from this identity.  We become more like God in our character and actions, becoming less self-centered and more other-centered.  From a place of loving security as a result of God’s love and biblical self-love, we become secure and free to love and serve others without selfish or manipulative motives.  Boa writes, “The more we take pleasure in loving and serving God, the greater our capacity to take pleasure in loving and serving people.” [1]

When God, the son, became incarnate in the man Jesus of Nazareth, his earthly ministry was the ultimate example of loving and serving others, even to the point of suffering and sacrificing his life by death on a cross.  As God’s people, we are to follow Christ’s example of loving servanthood towards others.  The Apostle Paul taught this to the church at Philippi when he wrote,

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Phil 2:5-8).

Following Jesus in a life of loving and serving others will not always be easy.  We will experience moments of pain and suffering from the very people we are loving and serving.  In these moments, we must recognize and lean on God’s grace and forgiveness in our life and extend that to others.  Pain and suffering is momentarily for the people who belong to an eternal God. We are God’s eternal people and must live our lives with an eternal perspective while experiencing pain and suffering from those whom we are in relationships with.  Furthermore, we take no earthly possessions with us when we die, but what we can take with us are the souls of others.  Boa writes, “if we are investing in the lives of people, our investments will accrue dividends forever, since people were made in the image of God to inhabit eternity.” [2]

 

[1] Kenneth Boa. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001) Google Play edition, 47.

[2] Ibid., 48.

Loving Ourselves Correctly

Upon experiencing the unconditional love of God, are human insecurities are transformed, and we gain a deep sense of significance and security allowing us to become more human.  A proper understanding of how God sees us will develop a healthy self-image or a self-love from a Biblical view as defined by Boa, “loving ourselves correctly means seeing ourselves as God sees us.” This addresses identity, “Who am I?” or “What defines me?” We can define ourselves, or others can define us, in all sorts of ways, but what ultimately matters is how God defines his created people.  Through his grace towards us, our identity is formed and wrapped up in loving relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Kenneth Boa writes,

“Grace also tells us that we have become new creatures in Christ, having been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of his light, life, and love. In him, we now enjoy complete forgiveness from sins and limitless privileges as unconditionally accepted members of God’s family. Our past has been changed because of our new heredity in Christ, and our future is secure because of our new destiny as members of his body.” [1]

 

[1] Kenneth Boa. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001), Google Play edition, 36.

Loving God Completely

The Historical Christian faith teaches that one God exists as three personsthe Holy Trinity Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In this Triune Godhead, there is unity and love for one another. They are in perfect loving relationship, so beautiful, so pure, so majestic, and so passionate.  God is relational and as a result, he chose to create humanity in order to enter into loving relationship with his human creation. God created human beings in his Image and likeness; thus, similar to God, human beings are relational and have the capacity to be in relationships.  When God initiates and extends his love to humanity, he is inviting finite, mortal, reliant beings into an eternal, everlasting, loving relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This is truly God’s plan and desire for Humanity. Kenneth Boa explains, “Because the infinite and personal God loves us, he wants us to grow in an intimate relationship with him; this is the purpose for which we were created⎼to know, love, enjoy, and honor the Triune Lord of all creation.” [1]

When we learn that God, who is the eternal, the all-powerful, the all-knowing creator of everything that exists in the universe, loves us more than we could imagine, we begin to desire a loving relationship with him. Once we enter into loving relationship with God, we grow in our love for him.  We love God primarily because he exist, and he is the sufficient cause of love.  God is love. “There is nothing more reasonable or profitable than loving him,”[2] whose unconditional love abounds for us.  We love him because he has provided everything for us, nothing is from our own storehouses.  We love him because he has given us the superior gifts of “dignity, wisdom and virtue.” [3]  Saint Bernard of Clairvaux writes,

He is all that I need, all that I long for. My God and my help, I will love Thee for Thy great goodness; not so much as I might, surely, but as much as I can. I cannot love Thee as Thou deservest to be loved, for I cannot love Thee more than my own feebleness permits. I will love Thee more when Thou deemest me worthy to receive greater capacity for loving; yet never so perfectly as Thou hast deserved of me. [4]

 

[1] Kenneth Boa. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001), Google Play edition, 28.

[2] Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. On Loving God (Grand Rapids, Mich: Christian Classics Ethereal Library), 3.

[3] Ibid., 4.

[4] Ibid., 14.

Personal Reflection on Being a Graduate Theology Student

The thought of graduate theological studies makes me shake in my knees, and I confess it is for all the wrong reasons.  When it comes to the study of God, the sheer expanse of the subject should induce a healthy awe and unsettlement in my soul.  While my desire is to draw near to God and experience his goodness and greatness throughout my studies, often my personal insecurities, doubts and fears hinder me, and I begin to focus on my own abilities. Will I be able to complete the tasks assigned to me? Can I write with depth and clarity without plagiarizing? Will I fail? Will I graduate?  I shake for all the wrong reasons.  My focus is off. I unintentionally become solely a student rather than a student and a man of God.  I become in danger of forsaking my first love out of fear of failure.  But God’s love delivers me from my fear as I draw near to Him; therefore, I must seek him and depend upon Him throughout my studies.  He is near, and he is enough.  I must include him in every aspect, every task for his Glory.  Through consistent prayer, reflection and renewing of my mind by reading the scriptures, God will transform my thoughts and my focus. Completely surrendering to God and gazing upon his holiness and majesty throughout my studies may leave me shaky in the knees, but it will be for all the right reason.

 

Summary Response to “The Religious Life of Theological Students”

Warfield, Benjamin B. “The Religious Life of Theological Students.” One of 59 articles in The Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield. John E. Meeter (Ed.).

In summary of and response to Benjamin B. Warfield’s address to theology students at Princeton Theological School in the year 1911, vocation is what we do with our lives and regardless of our vocation, we are to offer it as service to God.  As a theology student, my vocation is to study theology with diligence and fervor while always fixing my eyes on the subject of my studies.  I must commit to my studies, not merely for informational acquisition, but for spiritual transformation. The theological themes I study must not become common fuzzy niceties about the divine. They are meant to be much more than that. There is a danger of being detached and unenthusiastic in my study of God, as if I were dissecting a cadaver in anatomy class or completing rote mathematical equations.

However, the sheer expanse of the subject should induce a healthy awe and unsettlement in my soul.  My desire should be draw near to God and experience his goodness and greatness. I should approach theological studies with the purpose of meeting with God and basking in his presence, where I will experience his glory, holiness, majesty and love for us.  As a result, this will enlarge my heart, elevate my spirit and grow me in holiness. Furthermore, theological studies must not be pursued in isolation.  I need to be connected with community, often gathering with others for worship, prayer, learning and fellowship. A spirit of humility must be cultivated throughout all aspects my theological studies experience. Complete dependence on God is vital for such a great task, so I must always make time for prayer in order to ask God for his grace and strength to sustain me.