Hello everyone! For those of you who may not know me, my name is Serena Lee and I am currently attending Seattle Pacific Seminary as a second-year Master of Divinity student (shout out to our church’s amazing seminary scholarship fund!). But seriously, words cannot express my sheer gratitude to SCAC for giving me this meaningful opportunity to learn so much and to earn my degree as I follow God’s calling for my life.
There are so many things I could say about my time in seminary, but for this post I would like to highlight one main thing that I have learned and experienced thus far, and it is that God is present with us and restoring hope and justice to all of his creation. This truth, although very simple, has brought me immense hope and clarity in my faith and ministry journey. Growing up, I have often understood my relationship with God to be one that is mainly personal and one-on-one, resulting in things like personal transformation and maturity of faith. I have always loved attending small groups, growing with fellow Christian brothers and sisters, and learning to share my faith and testimony with others. However, as I got older, I started to pay more attention to the news, to events in history, to the unjust structures, broken systems, and suffering and pain in the world around me, and my prior understanding of a personal, one-on-one relationship with God no longer seemed enough to address these bigger issues and questions. For a long time I felt small and hopeless because it seemed like despite our genuine efforts to resist these broken systems and to bring justice and hope through social services, charities, advocacy, and other forms, it did not seem to matter. Brokenness, evil, and injustice seemed to prevail.
However, in the new testament we see that Jesus continuously preached and embodied what he called the kingdom of God. Everything that he did — his miraculous healings, his compassion for the sick, his intimacy with the marginalized and dispossessed, his resistance to unjust power structures, and ultimately his death and resurrection — was to announce and demonstrate the good news of the inbreaking reign and kingdom of God, the beginning of true restoration in the world. Do we believe that God actually has authority over all the brokenness and injustice that we see in the world? Do we trust that God will bring ultimate restoration and enable his people to truly flourish under his care? These are the truths that we as the church must grapple with. As Christ was sent into the world to establish and announce God’s reign and restoration over all of creation, we are sent into the world to represent this reality and to invite others to participate in this reality.
When we lose sight of this reality, we can become more and more dependent on ourselves to advocate, to resist, and to do everything in our power to do justice, all while completely burning ourselves out in the process. Or, for others of us, we can get so intimidated and hopeless from the brokenness and injustices around us that we end up withdrawing and only focusing on personal faith matters instead. No matter where we are in this process, my prayer is that we would be comforted and motivated by the truth that God is present with us, and that God is restoring hope and justice to all of his creation. What we see right now is not the end of the story. Brokenness and injustice do not have the final word. Let us take courage as we continue to join together in God’s restorative work in our world.