Always On the Way

Peter joined the Kaio Community in August, after completing degrees in Philosophy and Biblical Literature at Taylor University. Here our resident philosopher reflects on his first few weeks of ministry at Emmaus.

nietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche rejected the idea of being, insisting our lives are only about becoming. We’re always on the way, never arriving.

Christians differ from Nietzsche in that we have hope, and our eyes are fixed toward a destination. This destination, and the road there, are personified in Jesus. However, perhaps Nietzsche is partly right. The frustrating truth remains that we never reach this destination in this life. There’s always more to learn, more to grow into.

So as I reflect on my initial time at Emmaus, I will focus on some truths which I hope to grow into more.

  • The gospel is that good. While I have my share of problems, I have not experienced the world’s evil the same way as our clients. My problems and questions have been of a particular shape. Thinking to myself, “If God is all-powerful, why does He allow evil?” and having that question posed to me by a client (which happened on my second day) are vastly different experiences. As I have thought on these men and their stories, I’ve realized that I have much growth to undergo in how deeply I believe God’s gospel, and I hope to grow more convinced that His good news is that good.
  • Jesus says, “Let’s do this together.” Often it’s tempting for me (and maybe you) to think that God is just on the other side of whatever problem I face. If I can deal with this (and maybe that behind it…), then I can be with God. Thankfully, Scripture is replete with people far from perfect virtue, or in a good deal of trouble, yet still aware God’s presence in their lives. God is right there with us in our troubles and our insufficiencies, not waiting on the other side tapping His foot. As I look ahead, I hope to grow more into a sense of God’s presence with me in every step of life and this ministry.
  • Jerry Maguire was wrong. Kierkegaard wrote of “religious isolation,” meaning I have to perceive myself standing alone before God, not needing another human to complete me, because I’m already one whole person. Kierkegaard says I can only discover this identity in relationship with God. So, Jerry Maguire fans, maybe the famous line, “You complete me,” is wrong. This is imperative to remember in ministry. If I look to complete myself in the response of the clients we serve, I’m not really serving them; I’ve entered into a contract saying, “I try to help you, and your response gives me permission to feel good about myself.” But this is not service, it’s a selfish employment. While I care for the guys, if they ignore my efforts, it doesn’t affect who I am before God. Surprisingly, this detachment frees me to best serve them, since then it truly is service, giving of myself freely. I desire their progress for other reasons (like care for them, not myself), but feeling completed can’t be among them. I must seek to serve from a place of bounty in God’s love.

I welcome your prayers for me as I work with Emmaus this year.

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