In But Not Of: Transcendent Love -- By: Elaine A. Yaryan

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 06:4 (Fall 1992)
Article: In But Not Of: Transcendent Love
Author: Elaine A. Yaryan

In But Not Of: Transcendent Love

Elaine A. Yaryan

CBE member Elaine Yaryan is an M.Div. student at Ashland Theological Seminary. Her essay was awarded first place in the 1992 Jeffrey A. Brandie Merit Scholarship competition. Applicants needed a minimum 3.3 GPA and were asked to write an essay on the topic “Issues the church faces as we approach the twenty-first century.” We offer Elaine Yaryan our congratulations on her first-place essay, and note that the second and third place winners were women.

Did it ever strike you as being odd, our infernal craving to catalog everything? There is a valid use for cataloging, of course. Telephone books, dictionaries, and those ingenious red wheeled cabinets from Sears and Roebuck, the ones with hundreds of tiny drawers for nuts and bolts: These are all quite functional — although I privately wonder whether that many kinds of nuts and bolts actually exist, or if all those drawers are for the illusion of competence.

Yes, there is a time and place for classification. I wonder, though, if we in the church have allowed the “catalog itch” to infiltrate our human relationships, and whether it has not damaged our ability to love transcendency, to be “in but not of”? How useful are all of our labels and categories in light of John 15:12? (“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”)

Judging by the headlines in the newspapers lately, the world’s catalogs are losing some of their pages. Walls are coming down, mediations being attempted, old enemies shopping in one another’s markets. The world, it seems, is attempting to reverse Babel. This shift in definitions poses the greatest challenge to we who are the church, as we face the turn of the century. Suddenly doors of ministry are flung wide. With the breakdown of old labels and walls we have unprecedented opportunities to share authentic transcendent love. In its movement toward globalization the world is seeking peace and security, liberation from the old war-mongering divisions. The world is famished for a taste of authentic, transcendent love. It is a ripened field begging for harvesters who are “in but not of.”

How many of us, though, are ready to meet the challenge? Are we already living from a position of transcendence regarding racial, gender, cultural and ecclesiastic barriers? Are the reckless, wall-pulverizing dynamics of Pentecost fueling our relationships? Or do we continue to confuse the American flag with the cross, the color of skin with the color of the heart, anatomy with authority, letter with spirit? Within the church and the privacy of our own hearts, have we grasped the truth that there is but one body, one Lord, and one b...

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