if Piper can do it

If you live in the Indy area, you may want to attend the THINK conference at College Park Church next weekend, where I’ll be explaining the biblical foundation and personal application of the Christian worldview.  It should be a provocative and meaningful time, so come if you can.

Here’s another entry for Our Daily Journey (you can tell what I’ve been up to), where I attempt to turn the thought of Jonathan Edwards into something devotional.  I am particularly unhappy with the end of my first paragraph, “she wailed to no avail” (pretty archaic and formulaic).  I’m open to any suggestions, just remember that I’m already at my 300 word limit, so the adjustment can’t add too many extra words.

letting go

read > Matthew 10:32-42

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine” (v. 37).

Shen Jie fell hard for Hou You Jing.  They were from the same province, shared a love for badminton and western movies, and as if by fate, met while working second shift at a microchip processor in Shenzhen.  Shen Jie couldn’t stand to be away from Hou You Jing, and she didn’t notice that her constant calls and weekend plans were beginning to smother him.  Hou You Jing slowly pulled away, and when he realized that Shen Jie would not pick up on any of his many hints, finally told her that he was breaking up.  Shen Jie was devastated.  “I love you!” she wailed to no avail.

Actually she didn’t.  Jonathan Edwards explained that we only love another person if we love them first in God.  Any love that stops short of God is actually a form of selfishness.  We love ourselves rather than others, our family rather than another, or our city or country rather than another town or nation.  Our circle of love may widen to include everyone on planet Earth, yet still we prefer our planet to the possible inhabitants of others.  Edwards explained that “true virtue consists in love to Being in general” and only afterwards “to any one particular being.”

This is partially Jesus’ point when he commands us to love him more than our closest family and friends.  He isn’t merely warning against idolatry, but also he is telling us how to fully enjoy these relationships.  When we love another person more than God we inevitably ask more from them than they can deliver.  Our neediness eventually suffocates them and our friendship.

Jesus said that whatever we cling to we will lose, but “if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”  If you love something let it go…in God.

14 Comments

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  1. she bawled, but he hauled…

  2. “she choked out” (not in an MMA kind of way)

    say hi to my friend Don Helton at College Park.

  3. You do realize that some down south on the Beltline consider Edwards to be a panentheist. So you are quoting a potential panentheist who just wants everyone to love one another. Sounds awfully familiar…

  4. “‘I love you!’ she cried as he walked away.”

  5. Brian:

    You play dirty. That makes sense of Edwards’ claim that we must love “Being in general.” Maybe I’m redeeming panentheism?

    Jonathan: that’s a good line, and it doesn’t rhyme (thanks a lot, Todd). You should write something.

  6. Mike, don’t even kid that you’re redeeming panentheism! And just because Sir Brian McLaughlin declares that “some consider Edwards to be a panentheist”, doesn’t mean those “considerations” are valid! I could go around saying “some out east consider Obama to be a republican” but that doesn’t mean jack – nor does it gel with reality.

    ps. Currently reading your book, Fathered by God and http://www.newagetograce.com/awdch10.pdf. Check the latter out.

  7. I’d simply make it “she wailed” and assume the reader is smart enough to surmise that it didn’t change Hou You Jing’s mind.

    Also, you should move the word only in “we only love another person if we love them first in God” to “we love another person only if we love them first in God.”

  8. Jonathan: very good line
    Todd: perfect line 🙂

    Some more ideas
    – ne’er was a leave-taking more a forsaking
    – o’ insults accrued / he bade her adieu
    – and o’er her bawl / his icy withdrawal

  9. “I love you!” she wailed, but to no avail.

  10. Mike:

    If you had more words to use, I would suggest something more poignant and poetic, like:

    “I love you!” she cried, her dreams dashed like a Cleveland sports fan’s hopes of a championship.

  11. We discussed Edwards’ supposed panentheism two weeks ago in the Edwards seminar. Dr. Marsden’s stated that in his opinion Edwards is not a pantheist and he is not really even a panentheist. Yes, creation is ontologically dependent on God but it is not ontologically included in God. Dr. Marsden stated that he does not see JE as a panentheist because he does not see JE holding that God creates by necessity. (I think this is more clear in JE’s more mature writing such as The End for Which God Created the World than in some of his earlier speculative work.)

  12. And if you haven’t submitted the story yet, I would suggesting changing the end of the second paragraph to something like: Shen Jie was devastated. In desperation, she pleaded over and over, “I love you!”

    If you end on “I love you” it will give it more emphasis. This would be good because the point you are considering is what it means to truly love another person. It will also help the reader to know more easily what you are referring to when you write, “Actually she didn’t” in the next paragraph. Otherwise, there is a chance that the reader might think that Shen Jie was wrong about her plea being of no avail (at least for a moment.)

    Also, if you’re going to use the phrase “Being in General” make sure that readers understand that for JE this primarily means God.

    You’re the man. That’s just my 2 cents.

  13. Nate:

    Great editorial and theological help–you’re a twofer! Are you enjoying Marsden? I would think that would be a special treat.

  14. How about “she wailed in vain.”

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