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Weekly Devotionals

A Good Challenge!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

I say nothing prevents us from becoming stagnant as well as helping us to grow and change like a good challenge! Whether in the context of your work, your hobbies, your intellect, your faith, your character, your relationships, your plans, your dreams, you name it and there’s hardly a chance that a good challenge in that area of your life will not be good for you. Thus, it should be no surprise that this is a biblical truth. As we hear stated in James 1:2-4, challenges are so good for us that it calls us to actually embrace with joy, the many challenges that come our way in every area of our life. And this because indeed, the challenges of life are what brings about real opportunities to learn, change, and grow.

I bring this up today because I would like to highly recommend a book that I have read recently because I believe that it’s one that will truly challenge us to mature in our understanding of our faith in a way that is very much relevant and needed today. The book is titled, “Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery,” by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah. In short, it is a book that traces the history of the Doctrine of Discovery (a doctrine that established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians) and the effects thereof today. Here is the official, published summary of the book:

You cannot discover lands already inhabited. Injustice has plagued American society for centuries. And we cannot move toward being a more just nation without understanding the root causes that have shaped our culture and institutions. In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.” In the fifteenth century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization. Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. Charles and Rah aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going. As other nations have instituted truth and reconciliation commissions, so do the authors call our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.

Please note that I am not saying that I agree with everything the book says, nor am I asking you to agree with everything the book says. What I am saying is that it is a worthy read because it presents to us a worthy challenge.

If you do end up reading it and would like to talk about it, I would certainly welcome the discussion (david.hwang@jubileeseoul.com)!

Happy Monday, and hopefully, happy reading (or listening via an audiobook platform)!d