The other day a friend was praying for me and got this word from the Lord:
You have so many shoulds in your life. They are robbing you of your freedom. The Lord doesn’t do shoulds.
That word was very accurate and well-timed (as you might expect when the Lord speaks). I have so many shoulds in my life – I should have done this, I shouldn’t have done that. Dwelling on those has become a hobby, an obsession on the past that robs my focus and energy for the present, the moment, the now that is all I have and all I am responsible for.
This is something I already know mentally, but need to learn to put into practice. Dorothy Day first taught me the importance of doing what comes to hand, to “be responsible only for the one action of the present moment.” (Loaves and Fishes, p.176) With all moments before now, I have either done wrong and need to repent, or I have done well and need to remain humble about that. But all of those moments are gone, only now matters.
There is no should, then, there is only what was. I may need to receive (or give) forgiveness, but dwelling on where I think I went wrong avails me nothing. In fact, it does the opposite. It takes away my ability to enjoy my freedom now. It becomes one more way to procrastinate and avoid the freedom that I am secretly (well until right now) afraid of. I don’t have to fear my future or my freedom.
Neither do you. The Lord shared this word with my friend specifically for me, but I think it might also be good for some of you to hear as well. I like that our God does not do should.
I want to talk for a minute about systematic theology [readers scream and hit the browser’s back button so fast and hard many broken mice result].
Don’t get anxious, I just want to talk about the bane of any systematic theology – the dreaded loose ends. See every systematic approach puts what it thinks is most important up front and builds the system on and around that beginning. The further away you get, the less important, and the less likely to fit into the framework erected at the beginning.
And here is where things usually get ugly. If we treated theology like the science that it is, we would look at that mess of loose ends and say, “well this disproves the hypothesis I started with, guess I have to start over.“ But rare is the author who is eager or even reluctantly willing to toss thousands and thousands of words just like that. No, we take those left over square pegs, and gosh darn it, we hammer them into that nice smooth, round hole we worked so hard on. A few mental gymnastics and crafty reinterpretations later, and we’ve origami-ed that square into fitting, or at least appearing to do so.
If we spent less time yelling at scientists and more time talking to them, we might learn something from the brutal honesty they approach their work with (when they are actually following the scientific method, and not ignoring it, but we’ll leave that to another post). If a hypothesis fails, it fails. Most likely, there is something you can learn from the failure, but any investment you have made based on that hypothesis is for the most part lost.
What I’m saying is that if by the approach you have taken, you have painted yourself into such a corner that you wind up saying something like, ‘women are not allowed to teach in church, or at least not men, and not from the pulpit,’ then you went wrong somewhere at the beginning. If your system leads you to positions Jesus did not hold (or would not hold), then your system does not work within the confines of Christian theology (by the definition indicated by the adjective). I’m looking at you Wayne Grudem.