x and y

Posted: December 16th, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 9 Comments »

I’ve been working on the left side of my brain lately. I’m teaching myself college Algebra to build new neuron paths and make myself more neurologically rounded. (yeah, that sounds nerdy…) It’s forcing me to be more detail oriented and it’s driving me a little crazy, but it’s fun when I get it.

I use the same parts of my brain when I’m studying theology as I do when I’m studying math. It’s details and terminology and it’s all based on a strong foundation that keeps building and building. The similarities between math and theology are interesting to me.

It’s 2 am and my brain is still buzzing from three days of studying, so I’m writing. If I were to start talking about systems of algebraic equations and posted a set to have you solve, you’d only be able to solve them if you knew the basics. Once you know the basics, you can run everything through the system with ease. However, if you don’t know the basics, then it’s all foreign language. Nothing makes sense.

Theology is like that. Sometimes I jump right into the middle of a concept and it makes no sense to some people because they don’t have the basics down.

The key to understanding Algebra is to know the order of operations. The further you get into it, the more there is to discover, but it never deviates from the system. There is only one answer and if you mess something up along the way, you’re off track for the rest of it.

It’s the same with theology. Words can trip you up and not understanding the order of operations can trip you up. The key to understanding the scriptures is to know the order of operations.

Last week I spent over three hours on an equation. I got all of the steps right and 99% of my answers were correct, but I continually came up with the wrong answer and it was making me crazy. After a late night phone call to a friend, I realized that I wasn’t dividing fractions right. I could get these complex systems, remember every single detail in the proper order, but I forgot something I should have learned in 6th grade. As educated as I was, not knowing a tiny basic detail made every perfectly executed step after it completely wrong.

That fact is a direct parallel to the spiritual mirror:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. -1 Corinthians 13:1-3 MSG

You can get everything right. Follow the system, pay attention to every detail, and you can still come up with the wrong answer. Understanding the scriptures has everything to do with your faith in redemption. It’s a faith in God’s sovereign grace.

The problems that usually arise for people are the details. If you know too much about a person’s sin, it will be harder for you to believe in grace without hesitation or stipulation. It’s harder for you to forgive. Everything you do after that will be wrong.

You can fight your anger and your pride, but you do it with your own will. When you really forgive, you’ll still be haunted by your anger and pride, but your faith in the power of the grace of Jesus will empower you. All of your internal fighting will be laced with grace. The only way to be able to really forgive is through your faith in the sovereignty of God and His love.

You can get all of the steps right, but if you do not love, then you do not have not understood the most basic concept and everythig else is a mess of noise.

The practical application calls you to consider a situation where you are either focused on the circumstances or your focused on a God who promises that nothing happens outside His will. If it’s happening, He’s in on it and He has a plan for it. You not going to get anything unless you can get the basics of who you’re dealing with and how He affects everything.


9 Comments on “x and y”

  1. 1 Elizabeth said at 3:07 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    I have been struck lately by how many leaders want to control how their people serve and glorify God rather than teaching them to love God and love people…and then letting the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work.
    My recent post What Do You Want?

  2. 2 Conny said at 3:11 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    I know I keep repeating myself but I love not only what you write but the way you do it. Any questions coming up in my head, are always answered within the next few lines written.

    However, I do have a question this time and I hope you can answer it for me.

    I know God is love and that we are commanded to love one another but what if you can't feel love for everyone, does that mean that I am not filled with the Holy Spirit, that I am not a true Christian? does it even imply that I don't really love Jesus, even though I feel absolutely certain that I do?

    I would really appreciate your reply.

    Love and Blessings to you

  3. 3 serenawoods said at 6:35 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    Conny, don't turn this into something to beat yourself up about. 😉

    It's not a feeling. It's being convinced of the worth of another person and taking the initiative to make sure they know they're loved, taken care of, and never alone.

  4. 4 Elizabeth said at 9:33 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    I agree. Love isn't an emotion. If anything for God were based on emotion, we'd all be tossed about on every whim! It's making a choice to, as I tell my little ones, act loving to those around us. Funny thing is, I've discovered that very often the emotion follows physical obedience!

  5. 5 Jared said at 4:25 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    You got a nerdy Software developer that really resonates with what you are saying!

    Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
    A: Pumpkin Pi! 😀

  6. 6 Jason said at 5:29 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    "You can get all of the steps right, but if you do not love, then you do not have not understood the most basic concept and everything else is a mess of noise."

    Well said. So often we focus on processes and instructions and the way "to do things" that we forget it's about love in the end.
    My recent post Day 349: Wise counsel can mean counseling

  7. 7 Amy said at 9:54 pm on December 16th, 2011:

    So true. If we don't have love, then we're forgetting the commandments Jesus told us were most important of all.

    As I read your account of knowing the processes but forgetting one simple detail, that also brought home to me how if we try to gain salvation by the law, we are doomed to failure. We will never get all those details right. It is grace that we need.
    My recent post My Lifeline

  8. 8 Paul Cahill said at 10:01 am on December 17th, 2011:

    Interesting observation. Love is certainly not an easy equation to solve but necessary. Thanks for sharing.
    My recent post Art from the war

  9. 9 Charise Christianson said at 9:40 am on December 18th, 2011:

    Serena, this so ministered to me today!! Thank you so much for this post!

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