Posted by: sarahkennedy33 | October 9, 2008

It’s Not About Us, It’s About God

There’s no doubt about it, we’re living in some difficult times right now, I’m sitting here with Dr. Phil in the background talking about the economic crisis (ok, take your moment to make fun of the fact that I’m watching Dr. Phil). This morning I woke up to Matt Lauer explaining the rising interest rates and other confusing, yet terrifying set of facts about the economy. There is a political election going on that only seems to bring about more polarization every 4 years (I’m sorry, but isn’t our country called the UNITED states of America? Showing us maps every day with different states colored in with red or blue doesn’t exactly give me much hope that we are united on anything anymore…just an observation). I could keep going, but I won’t. You all watch the news, you all are experiencing the effects of the state of things right now. But this week I was reminded of two different things that have brought me immense hope and encouragement that I thought I would share.

About a month ago, Fuller Seminary lost one of our “legends”–an unbelievably gifted scholar, professor and pastor, Dr. David Scholer. I had the privilege of being one of his students a few years ago, in what was probably the most famous and popular class on campus, Women in the Bible. Dr. Scholer was one of the leading New Testament scholars in the world and spent his entire life tirelessly advocating for women in ministry, spreading the message that men and women were created equally in God’s kingdom and it is unbiblical and counter to the Kingdom of God to deny women the “right” they have to use their gifts in the church. He has taught this class when no other professor in the country at any seminary was standing up for women’s rights in the church (even back in the 60s and 70s when no women were even allowed to really attend seminary). He has had students threaten violence against him (male students not happy with what he was teaching, and husbands of women taking his class, who didn’t like that their wives were coming home with their heads full of ideas of equality). He had students verbally assault him, and has countless stories of being screamed at and threatened in churches and congregations where he was asked to guest speak. Dr. Scholer gave me immense hope and encouragement as I began my seminary career, wrestling with the messages I was raised with that women should not serve equally in the church (not a message I received from my family but one I received very strongly from some former pastors). He was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, and continued living, teaching, and serve Fuller and his students long after doctors said he should have passed away. In May he was the speaker at this year’s baccalaureate service, having to speak from a chair due to his weakened state (by then the cancer had spread to his brain) and his whole sermon was centered around the idea that “It’s about God; it’s not about us.” It was focused on the passage about having treasures within jars of clay, how our bodies are broken, earthly vessels, but within us we carry the most precious, priceless, valuable treasure we will ever know, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only in our moments of greatest weakness and fear that God can be glorified. My favorite quote from the sermon is something that I hope brings you encouragement right now in these tough times as well. From a man who knew he didn’t have much longer to live, came these words:

“I believe in God’s comfort and love. I believe that God is the giver of life, and that means to affirm this life, as well as to have faith in the life to come.” ~Dr. David Scholer

Dr. Scholer knew deep down that even though his body was failing, his clay vessel was not going to last much longer, he knew that it didn’t matter. He knew it was about God. God’s power, God’s glory, and God’s ultimate control. In times like this, my prayer is that this is a comforting thought; not a terrifying one. I taught last night at church on the doctrine of election and predestination (yes I volunteered for this…and then really really wondered why!) And after spending all week thinking and praying and studying this doctrine I realize it really boils down to the nature of God. God is God. And because God is God, God is in control. It’s about him, it’s not about us. I think times like this are times that really push people to think about what they really believe about God. We like God when things go well, but when things don’t, we blame Him. Is that really fair? Does God really owe us comfort and happiness? We like to think so, but looking at scripture holistically, I’m not so sure that’s a case we can make. My prayer is that as things get tough, as we all feel the effects of things going on in the world, that we might take Dr. Scholer’s words to heart. We have hope in this life and in the life to come because of who God is, not because of our own striving, our own efforts, or our economy. Because really, it’s about God, it’s not about us.

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