This weekend I did something I didn’t want to do. I opened myself to something when I really wanted to remain safe, and closed. I did it because I thought it would be good for me, like eating Kale or going to Yoga class. Healthy, but uncomfortable and not very palatable.
I put myself in an environment with a speaker whose theology I don’t always agree with. It was a situation where there would be questions and theories and ambiguity and nuance and I was afraid this person might speak for God in ways that wouldn’t make Him happy. More accurately, he might speak for God in ways that I wouldn’t.
My inclination is to run from controversy and fog like I’d run from an angry bear in the forest. But I want to be brave.
I’ve always preferred black and white to gray, the safe middle to the unknown edges when it comes to theology, and yet, I came out of seminary with more questions than I went in with, but also a bigger, safer, though more mysterious God.
Maybe I went in thinking I could study God like a scientist studies monkeys and learns to predict their movements. But it was more like diving into the ocean with alternately crashing 10 foot high swells and then motionless becalmed water. The pull of the tide, and the dark, fathomless depths with sea caves and weird creatures.
So why, if I’ve felt secure enough to thrash in the sea with God, does my stomach clench when I’m in situations where someone might say something “wrong”, angry, or… gasp, even heretical?
Do we all have some arrogant need to always be right and on the side of the angels?
More than that, do we fear being wrong?
Or are we wisely aware that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”?
Though He has grown in my own mind, do I feel like God is a toddler who needs to hold my hand to cross the street as if I know the way better than He does?
Maybe the Creator of the Universe needs me to be His bodyguard, to defend Him against friendly fire.
And then He gently reminds me…
Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?…Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? Job 38
When the questions are swirling and I feel defensive and anxious I come back to what I do know (which is little, but very important).
God is love.
Love doesn’t fear questions.
And, as our friend, the speaker who can make me uneasy reminded us…
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. but the greatest of these is Love. 1 Cor. 13