May 9, 2021
Today I am going to begin a new blog series called Random Musings: Matters of faith that I am seeking after as I continue to ask questions, seek answers, and deepen in my own faith.
Yes, I am a pastor, though now retired.
Yes, I have both a master’s in divinity and a doctorate in ministry with a focus on spiritual transformation.
Regardless, I realize each and every day, that my faith walk is still a journey that will never end -but continue to grow … if I am willing to do the work.
So, even though I won’t be able to blog every week, as life circumstances have changed over the past eight months, I hope you will continue to make the way with me and invite others to come along as well whenever I do post (hopefully, every other week will become the new norm – a week to ‘muse’, a week to write).
I also hope you will engage in conversation with me by sharing your own musings on my blog topics. I just ask that all comments continue to be loving and non-judgmental of each other. So far, so good, but it’s always a good caveat to provide since my blog is intended to be a safe space for all to grow and learn together.
So, to begin….
One of the scriptures I have always found insightfully convicting in its poignancy is the text containing the last words John the Baptist speaks before his beheading.
John had confidently preached the coming of the Messiah and the preparatory need for repentance for quite some time. His fervent teachings and radical courage in speaking truth to power landed him in prison where the prophet moldered for months before Herod’s pride forced the king to execute the prophet. (Mark 6:17-29)
Yet, before his death, John had a question for Jesus: Are You the One or are we to wait for another? Luke 7:18-19.
Even John the Baptist kept seeking answers! John knew what he knew….but what did he know? His faith was one of constant seeking. I believe John realized that as deep as his faith was, it needed to grow deeper right to the end of this life.
He didn’t mock His cousin or throw up His hands in disgust. Neither did He give a straight yes or no answer. Instead, the Lord relayed a message to John: think about it, John….what do you see; what conclusion do you reach? Go deep, John – deeper than ever before. Never stop seeking. Never stop asking. Never think for a moment that there is not more breadth, length, height, and depth of God to comprehend. Ephesians 3:18-19.
It is a seeking after knowing God deeply that will never end! No matter how much we think we have ‘wrapped our minds around God’ – we haven’t got a clue! 1 Corinthians 13:12.
Ironically….guess which ones thought they had ‘wrapped their minds around Jesus’?
After all, they were with Jesus constantly! Do a search and see how many times prior to the crucifixion, the disciples proclaimed Jesus to be ‘the One.’ (biblegateway.com is a great search engine for such work)
The disciples thought they had Jesus all figured out! Yet, when the rubber met the road, one disciple sold Jesus out. Mark 14:10-11 The others fled into the darkness when the Lord was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14:43-52
They had ‘wrapped their minds around Jesus until their concept of exactly Who He was no longer worked. They needed to go deeper – wider – higher – and longer!
But this isn’t a New Testament problem alone.
Think of Job in the Hebrew Bible: an exemplary believer in God; one who lived a righteous life before God. Job 1:1. Yet, when disaster struck, Job couldn’t figure out why God allowed him to endure the trials he suffered.
Job’s buddies thought they had ‘wrapped their minds around God’ and God’s ways. They were more than happy to explain God to Job…until God said they were wrong in no uncertain terms. Job 42:7.
Job thought he had ‘wrapped his mind around God’ as well…not so much. God spent four entire chapters of that ancient text setting Job straight! Job 38-41
As deep as Job’s faith was, as faultless as his life had been – Job’s faith was intended to be a constant seeking after the knowledge of God. Isaiah 55:6-9 declares this truth.
Today, we still struggle with the book of Job – and typically shake our heads and walk away dismissively because we can’t ‘wrap our minds around it’ – go deep! Keep searching! It’s more than some random fable.
But are we willing to do the lifelong seeking? The lifelong digging? Is our life a true seeking after God?
So often the answer is no.
We are content to blindly accept the work of others; to ascribe to the shallow quip: ‘The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.’ I call the quip shallow because it excuses us from doing the work ourselves to see what the Bible says. It gives us a pass in allowing us to take someone else’s word for the scripture’s meaning and go on in trusting ignorance.
Have we bothered asking: what is the context of the scripture? What situation was being addressed? What relevance does it have for us today?
Just because we appreciate and admire a leader, we should be wary of accepting what is said at face value, not realizing that things might be taken out of context in trying to prove a point or express a personal concept.
Referring back to Jesus’ words to John, just as the Lord was calling John to do the work, we, too, are not to be content with what we think we know – we must always dig deeper, reach higher, look wider, stretch longer. Never settling for less than a constant expanding of what we believe! Never taking the teachings of others with passive acceptance.
And yes, asking questions and not settling for thinking we have God figured out is a humble place to be; we get uncomfortable with not being able to wrap our minds around the unwrappability (not a word, btw) of God – but it’s the right place to be – because with our humble discomfort comes true deepening.
God’s response? God honored Job Job 42:7-9.
Again consider the disciples: particularly Thomas, who gets so much bad press! He was unwilling to passively accept the words of the others; on seeing the Lord Whom he sought, Thomas fell to his knees and proclaimed “My Lord, and my God!” John 20:28.
And, yes, Christ goes on say: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29 but how do those others come to believe?
By doing the work required of the journey of faith – a journey that only ends in the Presence of the One in Whom we believe!
Hope you’ll continue on the way with me – next time: Random Musings about Eternal
And to God be the glory! AMEN.