Going to seminary is not a solely academic endeavor.
I don’t know how many times they told us this during orientation, but like with most things it seems I have trouble taking people’s word for it. School for most of my life has worked like a 9-to-5. I clock my time. Put in the hours and you’ll reap good results (read: grades). This is so much more than that. I wanted it to be. I hoped it could be. But when I said yes, shine Your light in all my dark places I think my underlining preconception was that my dark places weren’t that dark. That I was basically a “good person” (whatever that means). Well, news flash, none of us are–no matter if pop-psychology tells us otherwise. I guess I’d bought in more than I realized. I’d believed that “Jesus loves you (subtext: just the way you are)” meant the Refiner’s fire didn’t apply and I could, by all accounts, work my way to holiness.
What you believe is not necessarily what you think you believe or what you say you think you believe. “You will recognize them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16).” So, yes, it matters what we do as it is evidence of the inclination of our hearts either in submission or rebellion to God. Reflecting this morning on James, this point rings out to me as clearly as ever. “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18).” We are body, mind, and spirit. What we truly believe is reflected in how we live our lives in every moment, dying daily in order to bear much fruit (John 12:24).
I guess what I’m saying is that the lessons I’m learning are deeper and more painful than I anticipated when I initially made the decision to apply for and attend seminary. And that by my own strength I’m afraid that this road is insurmountable. But “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7), and this calling for my life is “not because of [my] works but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9). And for that I am eternally grateful.