Monday, September 29, 2008

A Slight Misunderstanding

This past weekend, I gave a sermon on the necessity (or lack thereof) of understanding in the Gospels. I believe that Jesus made no distinction, and loved people regardless of their understanding. I connected it to the debate over how old a person must be to receive communion – their age is a factor in their understanding, after all. The sermon is done (for me, this means giving it four times in a 20-hour period, which translates into a few of these: !!!), but I’m still thinking about it.

I’m still thinking about it, because every time I turn on the TV to one of the “Christian” (I use that term loosely) stations, or any time I flip the radio station to one of the three – or 3,000, it’s hard to tell sometimes – conservative talk-show/fundamentalist Christian sermon-hours, I experience a full-on assault of immensely absolute and fundamental knowledge. There’s no room for not understanding with this theology.

They understand all, it seems – and we better figure out how to do the same. And soon. ‘Cause Jesus is coming. And, apparently, he’s super pissed.

I related the story of my mother, who understood close to nothing in the last years and months of her life, yet she could have still received communion. Because it’s not about whether or not she understands. It’s not about what she can or can’t do. It’s about what Jesus does. What he promises in the bread and wine.

We serve an amazing God, a God, I believe, who is quite powerful and loving. You’d never know it from listening to this understanding-based theology on TV and radio, though. For them, the answers are necessary and critical, and we must understand all of God’s innermost attributes and characteristics. We must understand what – and who – God hates, and follow by example.

In this theology (I believe), it is “understood” that we must work towards God, instead of God emptying Godself and coming down to us, to be among us. It’s understood that we must prove ourselves again and again, accepting Jesus into our hearts – instead of Jesus accepting us, and God calling us to be God’s people in the world.

Basically, this theology is so concerned with what we must do – include understand – instead of the amazing things God does. What a sad view of God.

I’m just fairly certain of one thing: I don’t understand much. I’ll never truly “get” God. And I think that’s the only honest thing I can come up with – for who can really understand the truly mysterious?

I realize that this blog post talks about how it doesn’t matter whether or not we understand by assuming that I “understand” that this is the correct way of thinking. But I’m pretty sure God is greater than us. So it makes sense to me that it’s not about what we can do. It’s not about us.

It’s about the One whom we worship. Whether or not we understand what that really means.


At 8:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, amen.- Jim


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