This Week in Church: If/then statements, David Brooks, love, and screwing up.

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.

I think that church can teach things that are beneficial to everyone, whether or not we believe in church-related things.

This week in church we talked about if/then statements.

If I want to bike 80km, then I need to start with 2.

If I want to eat healthier, then I should buy more vegetables.

If I want a rich inner life, then ______?

If I want to be a follower of Jesus, then _______?

I am a person who, whatever my official religious beliefs, wants to follow the example of Jesus. Whenever I think about the if/then statements that come out of that, of course, I get terrified. Jesus lived his life a wandering homeless man who let himself get murdered and pretty much gave everything to others.

Of course, not all of his followers did that, and he seemed to be okay with that. Some had homes and fed him. So am I supposed to feed everyone then? Or just some people? Because there are a lot of people who I encounter every day in Vancouver that need food, and I haven't learned how to multiply bread and fish yet.

What's your "if" statement?

This week in church we talked about David Brooks.

David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times who asked the question "if I want a rich inner life, then what must I do?" The result is his article The Moral Bucket List, which details his key learnings from . A key concept in the sermon was this concept of resume virtues vs. eulogy virtues. The virtues that get us jobs and awards and money vs. the virtues that people talk about in our eulogies, like our capacity for love or faithfulness.

He concludes, from studying people with rich and deep inner lives that you can become a wonderful person through the choices you make in life. He goes on to list them - it's a great read and I recommend checking it out if you want to give yourself some moral homework. I know I do!

This week in church we talked about love.

There's one terrifying if/then statement in the Bible, which is "if you love me, follow my commands." Ugh! What? That's so... hierarchical. And also, what are these commands? There are a lot in the Bible. Then you realize that the entirety of the command is to love one other. That's not so bad. But THEN you realize what loving others truly entails and it becomes kind of terrifying again.

We took the 1 Corinthians 13 love passage (you know, "love is patient, love is kind...", that everyone reads at weddings) and considered what that really means as a map for life. That was scary, but also inspiring. It's specific enough that I could actually try to follow it, as opposed to this amorphous "love each other", that could mean all sorts of things.

This week in church we talked about not always getting it right.

Here's a catch phrase for living a life of love: "70% is the new 100%."

As someone who likes to get straight A's, I can set pretty high standards for myself. But since the context here is trying to show perfect love to others all the time, 70% is even a challenge. But maybe a more achievable challenge?

Oh, and according to David Brook's research, one of the keys to living a richer life is being open and honest about those times you get it wrong. So that presupposes getting stuff wrong, so I guess I'm doing it wrong if I get it all right!

Also, this did not come up in church, but it really, really made me laugh and is kind of related:

Who doesn't love some renaissance art and feminist humour?
Find it on Imgur

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