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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wise Guides

I continue to be amazed at how the small things can make such a huge difference. During the time I've been taking Greek, I've noticed how often a single letter can dramatically change the meaning of a word or a sentence. This week, the small things have begun to matter even more. We learned early on in the course that the letters "ou" mean "not" in Greek. However, above the first letter is a small apostrophe, called a breathing mark. This mark may seem insignificant; nothing more than minutia noticed only by the advanced scholar. Not so. That little mark is of vital importance, because, as we learned this week, if you turn this mark around, the same two letters "ou" no longer mean "not." They now mean "where." One tiny breathing mark above the word, so small you wouldn't notice it without your glasses, changes the entire meaning and makes a major difference in translation.

This is why, in our learning environments, we have wise guides. We have come to know them as professors and teachers. These are people who know the material so well that they are able to look at a class and say, "While this may seem like a minor and insignificant detail, it matters. It really matters, and if you miss it, you will be lost." Our professor is the master of the details- he is able to explain how the words break down so we also can learn how to notice these small, yet incredibly important, details.

I think of how similar this scenario can be to our faith. As "students" of faith, seeking to follow after Jesus, we may be tempted to view some things as minor or insignificant. They may have value for someone, we think, but we write them off as useful tools for only the religious elite. And yet, much like a Greek student ignoring the breathing marks, we can get lost while skimming over unessential details that make a world of difference.

Fortunately, God has blessed us with Wise Guides. We call these the Word and the Spirit. The Bible is God's Word spoken to us; written thousands of years ago but still speaking to us today. The Spirit is God's very presence, placed in the hearts and minds of all those who turn willingly to Him. These are our guides, calling to us, "Notice this. This matters. This is not optional- it can change your life."

I think of topics like community. We are easily led to believe that community, a place where we are deeply known and able to know others, is a nice benefit but only essential for a few. Yet the Word and the Spirit would say otherwise. The Word continually calls us to the "one another" actions of life, and how can we "one another" unless we are closely connected in community? And as we yield our life to the Spirit, I believe we will feel drawn to places where our superficiality is laid down in favor of dealing with the truth of who we are.

What other topics do we try to gloss over as insignificant? And what do our Wise Guides tell us? Loving our neighbor, helping the poor, giving, a life of discipline- these are but a few of the many "details" of our faith that truly hold the power to change us forever.

How are you handling the small matters? May you trust the leadership of your Wise Guides above and beyond your own "student" reasoning.

Blessings on your journey, as you live in the class of life,



llamapacker said...

Consider yourself fortunate. Early Greek readers did not even have the benefit of breathing and other diacritical remarks. In fact, some of the writings were in all capital letters with NO spacing between words.

Imagine if we could not benefit from others who went on before and figured our and experienced the struggles an left behind breaks, breathing and guides that helped us. Imagine if we had to figure life out all by ourselves with no one to help.

Pity those unwilling to take advantage of those who shared their experience and wisdom.

Pastor Nick said...

I agree- we tend to get into an individualistic mind-set and believe doing it ourselves is better. (Like the guy fixing his pipes on his own, and later paying a plumber twice what it would have been originally!) We need to recognize there is power in the collective commuinty- others around us have knowledge and experience that can bless us. And's God's Spirit is in us.

I'm not sure I'd say to pity those folks, though, because at times I am one of them! And I think we all are. And many people don't want our pity- they want to know we care.