I was raised learning tons of theology and such. After my parents passed away, I became obsessed with apologetics and doctrine. I had to get it all right. God worked in it. He met me there. He’s a good dad like that. He meets us where we’re at, and, like the good shepherd that he is, steadily and gently leads us to where he wants us more and more.
After a year of giving up on finding the real Kingdom of God, (people actually gathered together to let him rule over them) all of the doctrine i had so clung to stopped making sense.
Have you ever stopped watching network television for a long period of time, and then went back to it and all of the sudden you find that all of the commercials make you feel like a total moron? Yeah, that’s how I felt when I would hear theology.
“You believe that? Huh?”
The mental gymnastics that so many of us evangelicals have to do in order to even adopt the bogus *faith alone* doctrine is wacky. But we’re often so immersed in it that we can’t see the forest for the trees.
It’s as though we believe that if we think about God wrong, He will fall apart. But he won’t. He’s good like that. If you believe the wrong stuff about your dad, he still exists, and he’s a mere mortal. You can pretty much bet that God who is so much greater will hold up under the weight of our confusion. God the father, who isn’t just good with a little g, but is himself GOOD, Truth, Logic, Wisdom… (not as attributes, but it’s who he is) Those things can describe things that people possess, but he is those things. They are what they are because of who he is.
He remains unchanged no matter how goofy we are.
So what do we have?
We get to be his kids!
Do kids want to know stuff about their dad, or do they want to actually know their dad?
When our relationships with God are based on logic and desperately trying to define him, we will all wind up arguing about what we see, think, interpret. We keep trying to nail down the Spirit that moves this way and that, shooting those nails through the wind and hitting each other in the eye. That wind should be our guide, not our slave.
You can no more nail down God than you can the wind. And if you are arrogant enough to try, you will wind up nailing him to a cross in the process.
The Kingdom of God is so amazingly upside down. I love it. It’s so gorgeous. If you’re wise, haughty, proud, you won’t get it. It won’t make sense to you. Truth himself designed it that way… you have to be a little one to get in. You have to be willing to get small.
In our everyday relationships it would be pretty unhealthy for us to spend all of our time attempting to define and have solid and unshakable beliefs about those we claim to love. No. Instead of defining friends, we get to know them, we walk with them. We cannot control them.
Why on God’s great earth do we try and make this very mistake with the king of all creation?
I think we need to judge theology based on a kid test. Imagine the logic of a child, and apply it to what you’re trying to teach.
Gets a lot simpler, doesn’t it?
Someone was trying to tell me that even the things Jesus taught before he died were part of the old covenant, and that you had to *divide* the word/scriptures at the point when Christ dies and rises again. But what’s funny, is that Jesus himself told his disciples to go and teach everything that he taught. He didn’t say, “…go teach that everything I taught is now cancelled out by my resurrection…” no, “go teach it, and tell people to obey it.”
So, if I’m a child, and Jesus said that, I’m gonna go. “Okay, sure.” I’m not going to go, “Okay, he’s meaning that he actually wants us to teach that he covered it all with his death and resurrection and we really don’t have to worry or bother with that pesky sermon on the mount that he preached that really makes my stomach hurt when I take the time to ponder each and every verse… nah, God’s gonna look at me and pretend I’m Jesus and not actually dirty ole me.”
Whew… no. I’m going to believe what he said.
I challenge you, all of you, me too, to step back from our concrete ideas of who we think God is, and look more simply at the scriptures.
Over the last few years I’ve taken great joy in reading from people like NT Wright and have had the privilege to learn from my dear friend Paul Pavao. When I read and listen to them talk about God, the cogs start turning. Things start to make sense. I don’t have to lie to myself about one passage to make it fit with the next.
Does that make sense?
It’s amazing how much good translation of the Apostle’s teachings often comes down to simply reading the text, and believing what it says. I know, it sounds funny… but we American Christians are no good at this. We read one thing, and we’ve been told sooooooooooo many times that it means another that we immediately run it through a filter and water it down… or worse, blow it up to overtake other passages.
This is not the mind of a child. This is the mind of a worldly, carnal, experienced adult. Kids look at a teaching, and take it for what it is. You tell them about the tooth fairy; they believe in the tooth fairy. You tell them about anything, they believe you.
Go read through the Gospels, those amazing tales of the Good News. Read them straight through. Sit down and enjoy them. Try and find a translation that you’ve not memorized from before to jostle your logic a bit. Most importantly, ask the Father for a clean slate to work from. To take in his heart.
And one final note, when the Gospels were written, these were what was taught to the people about what Christ had done. Not the Romans road, not the atonement. No… Christ’s life. The whole tale, teachings and all, of Christ initiating the kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
They weren’t divided up into old and new covenant teachings. They were taught. That’s kind of important, don’t you think?