I am already missing Westminster Wednesday evenings. I miss seeing everyone each week. One of my favorite parts of the night is sitting with the elementary age children (and some childlike adults) and singing the songs and dancing while Grant plays his ukulele and Kendra accompanies on the piano. I also miss my class. Each person makes the commitment to come every week, taking time to pray for those in need, offering each other support, and learning more about God’s sacred Scripture.
The discipline of meeting and studying each week has been a gift to me. One of the overarching themes my class has taught me over time is that God is less concerned about our making a personal decision for Jesus Christ, and more about showing God our gratitude. I also learned that gratitude is a foundational key to understanding the mind of God.
Throughout my time in Waterloo, I had more theologically conservative members regularly quoting John Piper to me. John Piper is a nationally popular pastor and writer. John Piper is a Reformed Baptist pastor from Minnesota. Over the past few years I am surprised to read that John Piper’s theology is transforming. Piper was a conservative Baptist who emphasized a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as the means of obtaining eternal life.
In one recent article, John Piper, surprisingly wrote, “The effort of this dominant viewpoint in American evangelicalism to define saving faith apart from the spiritual affections is biblically futile. To define saving faith apart from feelings of dependence, thankful trust, fervent admiration, pleased submission, contented resting, thrilled treasuring, eager reverence, heartfelt adoration is futile.” While I doubt John Piper and I will ever affirm the same understanding of Scripture, or theological confession, I do appreciate the understanding he describes.
Traditionally, evangelicalism focused primarily on creating a “saving faith” in someone to gain eternal life. Now, even those conservative evangelicals are recognizing that this is a manipulative and unsuccessful means of engendering lasting faith. These adjectives of “dependence, thankful trust, fervent admiration…” describe feelings of a loving relationship. Throughout the year, our class studied God’s Scripture and found not a God needing to be pacified so as not to cast us into hell, but a loving God, worthy of our deepest gratitude and love. We should not be afraid to approach this God or feel the need to offer the right salvation prayer to be included, but to develop a relationship based on gratitude for all God has done, is doing, and will continue to do.
Thank you, Wednesday group, for allowing me to learn anew, the love and blessings of God, in Jesus Christ.