It’s interesting how, in this life, things come together. Spend an hour or a day pondering some deeply serious issue, and you’ll be amazed how many movies you watch, songs you hear, conversations you have, all seem to have very specific bearing on that topic. Significantly more so with sermons, too. Every time I write an article here, and then attend church, I hear the teacher speak on exactly what I’m writing about.
I call it interesting, not amazing or surprising, because it makes sense within my worldview. But, then, my worldview interests me.
Nicki wrote me last night about the Parable of the Laborers in Matthew 20, because their lesson at church had been on that topic. It’s the story of the landowner who goes out at dawn and hires some workers for a set amount, and then hires more throughout the day and, at the end of the day, pays them all the same wages (and those who worked longest think that’s unfair). It’s a story about unjust Salvation, and it made Nicki think about some of the things I’ve been writing. She asked what I thought about that passage.
The fact of the matter is, that passage has been very much on my mind in every article I’ve written about Salvation. Not just that one, but a hundred others like it. You saw how I used the passage about the Faithfully Suicidal Mountain as defense for my ideas of Greatness and I’ve brought Elijah into my discussion of Christian salvation….
I want to tell you something about what I’m doing here, about my motivation. And it really has something to do with a comment Nicki made on one of my other posts last night. It’s about the structure of my worldview, about the PURPOSE of all of this, all these conversations, all these heresies….
These articles aren’t about my answers to other people’s questions about faith. They’re not answers to my OWN questions about difficult issues. They’re answers to one single, driving focus: what’s the POINT?
What’s the big picture?
I was told in Bible School that the Bible is the perfect, infallible Word of God — every word in it (in the English translation I had, even) the perfectly inspired wording provided by God — and that there couldn’t possibly be any contradiction, any lie anywhere among those many, many words.
I was told God was perfect and unchanging. That he was merciful and forgiving and loving and that he sent all sinners to Hell. That he made the world (in six days) for his beloved children to live in, and that the world belonged to Satan and Christians should not be of the world. That God breathed life into us, and that we should scorn this life and spend all of our time praying for the next….
I never once decided it was all meaningless. I have not yet, ever, really doubted God. I’m not bragging, and I’m not saying I never will, but I’ve never had a reason to. Human fallibility made a lot more sense to me than divine fallibility, so I put it all down to my teachers, and decided to figure out what had them confused.
My goal, for most of my life, has been to understand all of it, as a whole tapestry, not as little pieces. When we are told that God is love and we are told that love keeps no record of wrongs (in places far apart), and we’re told elsewhere that everyone sins and we’re told elsewhere that sinful people have no place in Heaven (but elsewhere that sometimes people sin while walking in the light)…how do you fit it all together?
I’ll say this: Most people who ask, “How could a loving God allow all the pain and suffering and injustice that go on in this world?” ask it rhetorically — and use the question itself as their justification for abandoning God.
I used that question as my justification for reviewing our understanding of what God is, what he intends for Man, what he has offered us and what he has asked of us. I have spent most of my life trying to make a meaningful message out of the whole of the Bible, and there are puzzling questions you haven’t even CONSIDERED yet, which were the kinds of things that got me started.
I haven’t found all my answers yet. I’ll probably never find enough answers for all of you, but I’ve already found a message that makes infinitely more sense to me than the one I learned in Bible School. THAT message sounds far, far too much like the one Jesus told us wouldn’t work.
I want to find the truth, and I have found no reason to be discouraged.
In every passage of the Bible, I have found no reason to be discouraged.
That is not to say I’m always right, that everything I read supports my ideas. I’ve thrown away LOTS of ideas (ideas that I LOVED at the time), but the more I read of the Bible, the more I understand of God, the more I find to be delighted about, to be joyous about, for this life and the next. I have found no reason to be discouraged.
It’s a beautiful experience. I recommend it highly.