June 28, 2012
A few Sundays back, a friend of mine was preaching on Mark 14:1-11 where Jesus is reclining at the house of Simon the leper when a woman comes to him and covers his head with perfume. He focused, in particular, on the words in verse 8 where Jesus, commending the woman before the disciples, tells them that “She has done what she could.”
In 1995 American writer Anne Herbert first coined the phrase that to improve our world we should all “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” Perhaps that, my friend suggested over a post-sermon lunch, is what Jesus is calling us to.
But is that what the woman did in Mark 14? Is that what Jesus commended her for and, by implication, gave us as an example to follow?
Random kindness seems fashionable in the Christian world today. We’re told that it is our task to bring Shalom into the world (everything sounds more impressive and theological in Hebrew after all). We’re told that God is in the business of redeeming the world and so as his followers we should be too. And what better way to do that than by practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty? After all, isn’t God the one who shows kindness to all and isn’t he the origin of beauty?
And if you’re struggling to feel randomly kind of senselessly beautiful then never fear because there are a myriad of books and websites out there to help you think of ways you can do it. “Put a hundred dollar bill on the windshield of a stranger,” for example, or “Plant a flower in a nearby park, or on the side of the road.”
But is that what we’re called to do as Christians?
Is that what the woman in Mark 14 was doing? No. She wasn’t practicing random kindness. If she was, then it wouldn’t have mattered whose head she had covered in perfume: Jesus’, Simon’s or even Judas’. But of course it did matter. Her act wasn’t random; she did what she did out of love for Jesus.
The truth is none of our actions are ever random. Everything we do we do for a reason, and that reason matters. In fact, the Bible tells us that the reason we do anything changes everything.
In Hebrews 11 verse 6, we’re told that without faith it is impossible to please God. That is a staggering thing to say. Nothing someone does, no matter how kind or beautiful that action may be, can be pleasing to God unless that person has faith in God. Why is that? Because God doesn’t call us to random acts of kindness, he calls us to love him in response to his love. “Be holy,” he says in Leviticus 19 verse 2, “because I am holy.”
The problem with our random kindness and senseless acts of beauty is that they are ours. God calls us to something far harder and far higher; he calls us to imitate his kindness and his acts of beauty for him.
Am I suggesting that we stop practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty? Not at all (in fact if anyone feels the urge my car is the red Subaru outside C-Building, random kindness is always welcome). I’m suggesting that the woman in Mark 14 did something far greater and Jesus calls us to something far harder. He calls us to love deliberately, to love sacrificially, to love God with everything and to show his love to all people, all the time.
Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.
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June 26, 2012
Introducing Tim Norton, another one of our new student bloggers! Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Tim!
Name: Tim Norton
Degree: Master of Divinity
Hometown: Niceville, FL (yup. NICE-ville)
Where were you before seminary? Before seminary I was working at Florida State Chi Alpha Campus Ministries as an Intern Pastor, having recently decided to forgo a career in Music Theatre.
Favorite hobbies? My favorite hobbies are singing and playing disc golf (I do both a LOT).
Favorite food? My favorite food is a toss up between momma's homemade lasagna and Danny's Fried Chicken (a local delicacy of Niceville).
Favorite hero of the Christian faith? George Whitefield
Favorite book? Honestly, the Harry Potter Series. My favorite book of Christian genre is More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
Interesting fact about yourself? In addition to being a singer/actor, I am also a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Issues you are passionate about? I am very passionate about accurate and thorough exegesis of Scripture and culture as preparation for relevant, engaging, authoritative and biblically-sound preaching of God's word.
June 21, 2012
We are excited to introduce you to one of our new student bloggers, Amy Gilbaugh! Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Amy!
Name: Amy Gilbaugh
Degree: Master of Divinity
Hometown: Iowa City, IA
Where were you before seminary? In Chicago - I had just graduated from Moody Bible Institute with lofty ambitions of living in the city and saving dough for the far distant dream of seminary. June passed, July passed, and I was itching to be in the classroom again. One week before orientation I packed my Jeep, sold everything that wouldn't fit, and arrived on Gordon-Conwell's campus 60 hours later.
Favorite hobbies? Reading (it better make the list if you're going to be a seminary student, I suppose), photography, writing, and thrifting.
Favorite food? Cheese - anywhere, anytime, any kind.
Favorite hero of the Christian faith? Right now, Margery Kempe. In a world where women's voices in the church were often silenced, she said, "I think that the Gospel gives me leave to speak of God."
Favorite book? Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Interesting fact about yourself? When I was five years old, I wanted to be a veterinarian. When I was six, I was told I am allergic to all fur. Seminary is a natural alternative, no?
Issues you are passionate about? Christ in literature and the arts, Church history, theology of body and embodiment, preaching.
June 19, 2012
Meet Dimitri Alldridge, one of our new student bloggers. Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Dim!
Name: Dimitri (Dim) Alldridge
Degree: Master of Divinity
Hometown: Sevenoaks, England
Where were you before seminary? In a little village called Danbury in Essex (the original one!)
Favourite hobbies? drinking tea, sport, drinking tea
Favourite food? Anything my wife cooks (especially if it's lasagne followed by tiramisu (and tea)!)
Favourite hero of the Christian faith? The pastor you or I have never heard of who faithfully teaches the Word, prays for his people and loves them day after day, week after week.
Favourite book? Calvin and Hobbes It's a Magical World
Issues you are passionate about? Skiing, making a good cup of tea and the local church (not necessarily in that order)