Saturday, February 7, 2015

Better Long-term Tension than Artificial Resolution

One of the great enemies of Bible study is the desire to achieve immediate resolution when questions arise. “Why does Jesus tell people not to broadcast what He has done in the early chapters of Mark?” “What does Jesus mean in John Chapter Two when He says, ‘My hour has not yet come’?” “Why did Jesus pray, ‘If it is possible let this cup pass from me…’?”

We want to Google the answer and move on with the study; we want to hear what the small group has to say and make a decision on the meaning and continue with the study. We want an answer concise enough to be on a quiz show; we want three options that we can choose from. This is not Biblical engagement, this is akin to doing a crossword puzzle.

God does not seem to be as interested in providing us answers as He is in revealing Himself to us and drawing us into an intimate relationship. Conversation tends to lead to relationship, giving answers to questions usually requires little engagement. God wants us to know His character, to know who He is; if we know His character we can trust Him to the point that we don’t need to have all of our questions answered. The two great questions are, “Who is God?” “Who am I?”

When God walked in the earth He raised more questions than He answered; the religious leaders had questions, the general public had questions, His disciples had questions. Jesus did not answer many of their little questions, but He did answer the one big question that they all should have been asking, “Who is this man Jesus?” The answer Jesus gave in His perfectly consistent life in both word and deed was, “I am God.”

The apostle Paul, knowing all he knew, and seeing all he had seen, still wrote, “Now we see through a glass darkly…” Paul also wrote that his great desire was, “That I may know Him…”

God invites our questions, He invites conversation surrounding our questions; God does not discourage questions, but nor does He seem to always answer them. Some questions have been with us since the Fall, “Why evil? Why suffering? Why injustice?” (I wonder if our first parents asked those questions. Perhaps they knew the answers all too well?) There are some Psalms that could easily be titled, “Why?” The Book of Job could be titled, “Why?” Not all “Whys?” are answered. And yet they are answered – they are answered in the sense that if we know God’s character that we then know that we can trust Him to hold the answers.

Artificial resolutions to questions, canned answers that are constructed to allow us to move on with our Bible reading, closure that does not require engagement – this is food without nutrients – it may fill us temporarily but it will not nourish us. Food for the mind, heart, soul, and spirit is food that reproduces itself in conversation with God, with His Word, and with His people – it is food born of relationship. As the Scriptures teach us, we are to “gird up the loins of our minds.” If our minds are not reproducing then they are atrophying.

Better long-term tension in pondering questions that short-term artificial resolution.

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