No Stones Unturned
John 16:13 ESV
I John 3:18 ESV
John 4:1-26 (the Samaritan woman at the well)
Systematic Theology in Seminary was excruciatingly difficult. The two series of coursework that were the most difficult were Systematic Theology and Hebrew. In Hebrew 2 we learned Hebrew Grammar and it was horrid. It was much more difficult than Hebrew 4 which was Hebrew Composition.
Why was Systematic Theology difficult? It was difficult because there were no stones left unturned.
I had to learn to wrestle with the text from an academic perspective from what we know about the text and what we believe.
I personally do that by praying and waiting on the Spirit of God to reveal truth.
It was also difficult because my theology was developing and changing. I’d say that when I started Systematic Theology 1 my theology was in middle childhood stage. I say that because I was in my mid-fifties when I started seminary. I had studied scripture all my life, but this was very different. We didn’t study just the stories in scripture. I had to learn to study scripture from the perspective of the truth of God.
My view of scripture was no longer what I thought or felt about scripture. Basically I had to retrain my older brain to think in terms of the truth of God.
I had to learn what John 16:13 meant by, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
By the time I went to seminary I had learned to practice a form of prayer called ‘listening prayer’ and I had prayed about scripture before. This step took it to a new level.
For example in I John 3:18 we are told, “little children let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
There are many levels to John’s words from God.
First, we notice that the writer is saying love is not just something you hear about or speak.
Love is an action.
Going one level deeper we realize that love is the action we have received from the truth.
Digging in we realize that we don’t DO the action so that we will be saved. We engage in the action of love because we are saved.
Our impetus to love is not our own. It comes from God IN us.
Let’s say we meet an old friend on the street one day and we engage in a conversation about what’s going on in his life. We find out that he’s been having a lot of health issues.
As we talk we realize that God is urging us to help the man.
We gently ask questions about how much support he is getting from friends and family. He says he has one son who checks on him but he lives in another state. Now comes the hard part…we start praying silently about what God “has” for this man. We ask the Spirit to guide us.
The man has no idea we are praying while he speaks.
At one point the man opens up and says he has no idea what to do next. He says he goes to church but no one has checked on him from his Sunday School class.
You sense he needs support and you also sense God is opening a door for you to help.
You ask him how you can help him.
He stops and thinks for a moment and says he hates to be a bother. You tell him you genuinely want to know if you can help. He is hesitant but he tells you it sure would help him if he just had someone to talk to once in a while.
You set up a time and place where you can meet for lunch.
Over the course of months he gradually opens up and your friendship is rekindled.
Without ever mentioning God or giving him an expectation of him believing what you believe, you became love in action to this man.
You genuinely loved him as a child of God. You got to know your old friend again and you cared for his need. He needed a friend. He needed to know that someone cared for him.
Over time he came to trust you. You also came to trust him.
Day by day, month by month passed as your old friendship was rekindled. It turned out to be a win-win for both of you. You developed a “no stones unturned” very genuine kind of friendship.
That my friends is God’s love in action.
When Jesus met a person on the street like the woman at the well, He cared for HER. He knew she was hurting and He let her know she was loved (John 4:1-26).
His intent wasn’t to evangelize her. His intent was to love her and in the process of His love, she became an ardent follower.
The ‘no stones unturned’ approach means we go to the heart of the matter. We care. We love.
Jesus did heal people but it was because He loved them. He didn’t heal them so they would follow Him. He healed because of He loved them.
Spiritual Practice: Love
Love someone today. Really love them.
In God, Deborah acrazyjourney.com