There’s a song by Bowling for Soup entitled “High School Never Ends.” (Note: This link navigates away from LSTC. LSTC does not necessarily promote, condone, or agree with the opinons on this page. I’d probably rate it PG-13 for language though, so be forewarned).
The song makes a good point. I once heard someone say that whenever humans gather in a group, it’s tempting to think that we’d rise to a higher level, but instead we tend to sink to a lowest common denominator. That’s true for ministry and it’s true for seminary. But really it’s true for life in general – wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in God’s name, as it may be.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in all aspects. Yes, the self-centeredness and lack of compassion can get to anyone. And yeah, it really stinks trying to figure out where you stand in the social strata and figuring out who you’ll sit next to in the lunchroom. Trying to figure out who you’ll dance with at Prom is also a big concern. But high school (or junior high, or preschool, or seminary, or working in ministry, or life in general) is all about figuring out who you are in relation to God and to the rest of community. High school is so torturous because you have all these visions of yourself and society that you embrace. You have other visions you want to embrace, but just can’t quite grasp. And you have to deal with the visions that other people want you to embrace.
Ultimately, we’re called to work in concert with God and all humanity and all of God’s creation. We’re called to come to a dynamic understanding we can live with. We need to embrace a vision of ourselves and our relationship with God that is strong and firm but doesn’t trod on anyone else. And most importantly, these visions have to be strong enough to bend.
Bending is hard. How many high schoolers have you known that were just so blasted inflexible about something? How many of us in high school were inflexible to the point of ridiculousness or even to the point of being dangerous? What are we inflexible about today? What are the points of rigidity in our beliefs about God, ourselves, and our fellow Children of God the Holy Spirit nudging us on?
So, since “High School Never Ends” our chances to change never end. Yeah, we’re rigid and unbending and closed off to the Holy Spirit in a lot of ways. But apparently God believes in semper reformanda – “always reforming.” We are not perfect. Our church is not perfect. Our seminary (sorry LSTC) is not perfect. But God is moving within us as individuals and us collectively as groups and institutions for the good of the gospel. Thanks be to God!