Author Archives: John Collins

Voices: The Story of Jesus

I am a Christian because the story of Jesus is still the story I’m willing to risk being wrong about. — Rachel Held Evans [1]

[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 164.

Voices: All Shall Be Well

In the first published book written in English by a woman, Julian of Norwich recorded sixteen mystical visions. The book was published in 1395 when the world was no less a stranger to evil, sin, suffering, and death than it is now. And yet, from Christ, she had these words of comfort:

‘It is true that sin is cause of all this suffering, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ [1]

Evil, sin, and death are real and life is hard, but God is good, and in the end, all shall be well.

[1] Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, trans. Barry Windeatt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), chap. 27, Kindle.

In the Same Church

My friend and colleague, David Livingston recently wrote a blog post titled “The Power of And.” That got me thinking about the United Methodist Church in general and Abilene First UMC in particular.

You often hear something along the lines of: “we disagree, but we can be in the same church.” As I shared yesterday, I think it would be better if we said: “we disagree, and we should be in the same church.

I make this assertion because I firmly believe that in the church, God, through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, is working reunify humanity. As Paul wrote in Galatians 3:38: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” To have people of different persuasions and opinions sitting side by side in the same pew is one of the reasons God created the church. Here at Abilene First UMC, we’re doing that, let’s keep doing it.

Voices: Putting Away Childish Things

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. — C. S. Lewis [1]

I think back to this quote every time I want to revisit The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

[1] C. S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (New York: HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017), Kindle, 38.

Voices: Scripture as a Wrestling Match

With Scripture, we’ve not been invited to an academic fraternity; we’ve been invited to a wrestling match. We’ve been invited to a dynamic, centuries-long conversation with God and God’s people that has been unfolding since creation, one story at a time. — Rachel Held Evans [1]

In my life, there are two different ways I would have taken the quote above. In the first part of my life, I would have hated it. Back then, I wanted to think of scripture exclusively as a book of good news, guidance, comfort, and consolation. I still like to think of scripture in that way, but I can no longer think of it exclusively. Having long ago encountered the more difficult and alarming parts of scripture, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has felt that I’m in a wrestling match.

[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 28.

God Works Through Ordinary People

God regularly works through ordinary people doing what they normally do, who with a mixture of half-faith and devotion are holding themselves ready for whatever God has in mind. — N. T. Wright [1]

Hold yourselves ready for whatever God has in mind.

[1] N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 8.