November 9, 2013

No one is a know-it-all

Not that I know everything, but when I’ve heard a speech before or know the contents already, I’m bored. I doodle quilt patterns on my notepad and fidget. Today’s devotional reading sums it up with, “The joy of the intellectual life would be largely gone, and the whole intellectual world would be stale and unprofitable if we knew everything.” 

Thomas didn’t know everything. He thought he knew the normal laws of nature though, so when confronted with the news of a resurrected Savior, he demanded proof and got it . . .

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:26–27)

Getting proof of the unknown does not always happen. Some realities cannot be proven and some intellectual difficulties have no solution. One problem for some who stumble over the beauty of Christ is that His followers can act like idiots. Others wonder about where evil comes from, or how can three Persons be one God? 

I’ve had people throw up the issues of abuse in the church and the foolish behavior of televangelists. I’ve also questioned my faith over some of those questions that have no answers. What do I do with that? And how do I deal with the disappointment of sin in the lives of those who claim to be God’s people?

First, I must deal with it the same way that I deal with my own sin. That is, admit it, confess it, agree that it is there. In my relationship with God, He knew this would happen and had John write, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

This indicates that if someone is struggling with this stumbling block to their faith, I should do the same thing; agree with them. Yes, Christians do mess up, sometimes royally. No doubt it would be a relief for them to unburden themselves, but also a relief to find a Christian who agrees with them on this point.

At the same time, I am not responsible for everything that is said or done in the name of Christianity. I also know that I do not give up medicine because there are quack doctors, and I will not give up on Christ because there are inconsistent and disobedient Christians. I’m like they are anyway.
Sometimes the hard intellectual problems must be set aside because there is no solution to all of those unsolved issues. Most all of them have been investigated, debated, and struggled with for thousands of years without result or consensus. Just as mathematician must set aside several unsolved problems, or the astronomer cannot determine the end of space, we are better to go on with what can be done and set the impossible aside. These problems are simply unnecessary cargo that keep my “I must know everything” intellect from humility.

Also, discussing these difficulties is just aggravating. Trying to figure out why people sin is frustrating for sin is always illogical, even with the best excuses. Trying to figure out the nature of the trinity can be frustrating too. This is how God reveals Himself and my mind is not yet able to understand it. All I can say is say what I do know. Being honest is a better answer than guessing. At the same time, it is better to express whatever I do understand and have struggled with than merely shrugging my shoulders. Those who struggle need to know that others struggle also.

 The real issue is Jesus Christ. He is a mystery, but a mystery revealed. Those who are revolting against the kind of religion some Christians exhibit to the world need to see the real thing. When that happens, many will receive it. I am not Jesus, but He lives in me. I must obey Him and care about the struggles of others.

I’m not sure life would be entirely sad and boring if all problems could be solved though, for the Bible says that when I am with Jesus, I will know as I am known. In heaven, there will be no unsolved problems, but I have a strong sense that when I am there, knowing everything will not be boring. Without sin to mess me up, that knowledge should keep me entranced and busy for eternity.

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