Pondering for Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 16: Year 1

Morning, Psalms 5 and 6; Evening,  Psalms 10 and 11;
1st Kings 1:38 to 2:4Acts 26:24 to 27:8Mark 13:28 to 37:

“While he was making this defense, Festus exclaimed, ‘You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane:” (Acts 26:24)

I am an advocate of life-long learning.  So I argue that not learning, and insisting on ignorance will make us more “out of our minds.” We must be open to our truths being reinterpreted.  Saul’s leaders were okay with him as long as he agreed with their narrative. But when his truth was reinterpreted by our Lord Jesus and he was renamed Paul, they say, it’s too much learning.

For me, learning is the second “L” in my five L pattern of following Christ. First, there is simply listening. We must listen in order that we give the speaker the opportunity to be heard, and maybe even understood. When we listen, we learn. Learning then is the second L.

The third L is Love.  If we have really listened we will either see and understand the speaker’s perspective or misunderstanding, or, if we admit it, we will come to understand that we ourselves have made false assumptions.  Either way, love will find a way to resolve our differences.

The fourth L is for living. Paul has done this. Paul has gone off and lived his new truth in Christ Jesus.  We too must put on whatever new development we have been made aware of as if it were and new suit of clothes. We must adjust and feel comfortable in our new understanding of our relationship with God and one another.

The fifth L is for leading, if we get that far. Paul felt that he was called to teach, inform, or lead the nations (Gentiles) to and about our Lord Jesus. But this could only be done after he fully accepted Jesus and believed himself in the Way.  We too after living our lives based on the love of Christ are called to lead those uninformed, or misinformed people about the real and inclusive love of God as made known in Christ Jesus.

So, it’s not that it’s too much learning for Paul or us.  Paul had not received any continued formal education after his Christ encountered trip to Damascus.  He received learning from our Lord Jesus. Such revelation supersedes all human schools of learning. Jesus teaches us to listen, learn, love, live and when called, to lead. But human life really begins with the love of listening.  Too many of us want to be heard but do not want to listen. Paul’s accusers did not want to listen to him. They wanted the Roman authorities to listen to them however. We have the same problem today. At some point our mouths must remain closed so that our ears (and hearts) will open.

Let us live to love, serve and teach, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying through the saints and to us, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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