Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Things

I've been hinting at some new things going on in my life these past few days but these "new" things are really just a renaissance, a renewal of the old things.

Recently, I've been growing weary of the new things I've invited into my world: blogs I read, people I follow on Twitter and philosophies I've adopted. What was once a revolutionary idea has turned into an empty ideology. Free and fearless thinkers just sound like sarcastic critics with a megaphones.

What was all of this supposed to be, I wonder? I know this was all going somewhere once, but I can't remember where that was.

See, I can get caught up in waves of revolutionary ideas, swept along by "new winds of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). This doctrines are not necessarily new biblical theologies but rather new ways of thinking. New business models, new philosophies and methods, new trends and fads, new perspectives and ideas.

I like new ideas. In fact, I think that's a good thing.

It's a good thing to challenge your assumptions. It's a good thing to stretch your limits. My pastor likes to say that if you're not changing you're not growing. So new things can be good, right?

Sometimes. But almost always, new things are seductive, alluring in their freshness and mystery. Like a bored housewife, we can be dazzled by the novelty of a new "doctrine" that says, "You don't have to be careful about what you say, raw honesty is healthier." Or, "Naivete and innocence is a crutch for the ignorant; a critical heart and a cynical tongue, these are the tools of the wise."

Sometimes a new idea can seem so stupid that it makes perfect sense. But, more often then not, that new idea really is just stupid. Sometimes, believe it or not, the crusty old fossils actually have the right idea.

Paul's letters to Timothy are some of my favorite passages in the bible. Timothy was a young pastor, a kid full of energy and excitement but, like any young minister, he was prone to doubt, fear and confusion. So Paul writes two letters to Timothy encouraging him to remember where he came from, to trust in his calling and stick to the things that he knew:
"Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you learned them." 2 Tim 3:13-14
I love these verses because, in part, Paul is talking about himself! He's saying, "Dude, I taught you this stuff, remember that? Don't you trust me? Don't worry about these new ideas cropping up, these new 'gospels' or methods that you hear about at that last leaders' conference. Get back to the basics and stick to what you know.

So let me admit, I've been seduced by new ideas. I've tried on the shoes and danced in them. Some of them are awesome and some have given me blisters. But the real money question here is: What are the things that I have learned and been assured of?

I have learned that God loves humans, radically and scandalously. I've learned that God's love for people is filtered through people like me. And I've been assured that God's first purpose, in every circumstance, is always to redeem.

What have you learned? What have you been assured of?

Have you ever been seduced or confused by new winds of doctrine?

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