I’m in the midst of reading a brilliant book by Abraham Joshua Heschel called Man Is Not Alone. I wish I could copy and paste massive chunks of text in the blog. A section entitled Some Of Us Blush, has caused me to fall into deep thought tonight. Here’s a small snippet.
God is not an explanation of the world’s enigmas or a guarantee for our salvation. He is an eternal challenge, an urgent demand. He is not a problem to be solved but a question addressed to us as individuals, as nations, as mankind.
The last sentence hit me. In my experience talking with Christians today, the vast majority treat God as though He is a problem to be solved. The way in which we approach scripture reveals this outlook. We take the ancient scriptures full of their mystery and we attempt to dissect the words, thoughts, history, context and then we put our interpretation of what “the writer is trying to communicate”. Let me say now that I think diving into the Word is crucial and study is a necessity. With that said, I feel that we do a poor job of answering questions.
If we are thinking from a leaders perspective: a leader receives a question from a church goer and this leader is looked upon as though they will know the answer. If they don’t know an exact answer, a reply can be spoken that proves to be satisfactory.
I think we are afraid of the mystery of the ineffable.
Looking at the scriptures, I’m not sure I understand God any better now than I did when I first started following Christ. I can’t state that I know much more about God, but I more fully understand how much He loves creation. We walk into church doors on Sunday not to be in full adoration and awe of the wonder of God but rather to be led in song and given a “good word” by a pastor that in some way relates to us today. Not only does this happen on Sundays, it happens in our everyday lives as well. For some wild reason, we only want answers, we don’t want the questions.
I’ve heard many say that they study the scriptures in order to know God better. But you can’t know God any better. You can know how much He loves us better, or how He longs to bring the world to peace and redemption. But saying you can know the unknowable better is an impossibility. Perhaps we have this idea that we can learn more about God because we have this book and it has “all the answers”. What if the book has so much freedom that if we posed the same question to 50 different people around the world, there is a good chance we would receive 50 different answers.
God is not an entity we can dissect, analyze, breakdown. The meaning of God will never be understood through doctrine.
As Heschel wrote, “Responsiveness to God cannot be copied; it must be original with every soul. …It only enters our vision when leaping like a spark from the anvil of the mind, hammered and beaten upon by trembling awe.”
Today, may we be in awe of the Divine.
May we fall in love with the mystery of God.
May live in the awareness of the ineffable.
If we don’t fall in love with the freedom God gives and then endless possible outcomes, we run the risk of treating God as a problem to be solved rather than the very question addressed.
Grace and Peace.