I have always been curious about the spiritual life and how it interacts and interferes with our natural lives. That’s why I’ve always hated it when I want to talk about something deep and interesting, like what it means to be united with the resurrected Christ, or the nature of the Trinity, or Biblical symbolism, and the Christian across from me says, “Some things we just won’t understand until we get to heaven.”
(dismal trombone slide)
Maybe they have a point. God claims that his ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. In Romans, Paul says that God’s ways are unsearchable and inscrutable. In I Corinthians he says that, in a sense, God’s range of personality so transcends our range of personality, that even his foolishness (if that were possible) would be wiser than our highest wisdom.
Okay, if that’s true, why study these things at all? We’re going to get it wrong. It’s sort of like asking a dog to analyze his master’s poetry.
But the Bible encourages us to scrute the inscrutable.
In the Old Testament, God complains that no one was seeking after him, that his people were destroying themselves because of their ignorance. He had established patterns for parents to pass the Law on to their children. He had given them rich symbolic feasts and rituals to remind them of who he was, and who they were as a result. He planted his tabernacle in the very center of their tents, then established a system so they could approach him while also respecting his holiness and transcendence. He even gave them his name.
One would think that, despite their differences, God wanted his people not only to know about him, but to sincerely know him.
In time, however, the Jews stopped using his name. It was just too holy. They wouldn’t write it, or even speak it. We don’t even know if Yahweh is the right pronunciation for YHWH. Some would find this to be an honorable gesture, but I am of the opinion that if someone tells you to call them Walt, but you insist on Mr. Doogan, you are respectfully stiff-arming Walter Doogan.
I am reminded of the story of David moving the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem—certainly a noble, God-honoring task. However, God had specifically told Moses that his ark was to be carried by priests on poles. This had rich symbolic meaning, one that would point directly to the life and legacy of one of David’s future descendants, Jesus. But there was no way that David could have realized the spiritual significance of how a holy box was moved around.
So David put the ark on a cart, and God was so upset he killed a man for touching it. Then David was upset. That is, until he finally searched around in Scripture and found out what he had done wrong. Wisely, David confessed his ignorance and finished the job right.
I think, despite our modern advantages, we are just as biblically illiterate as David. Sure, we know a lot of the major themes, but we are fuzzy on the details. And, like David, we can get ourselves in trouble because of it. We might claim that God can “use” whatever we screw up, or that God loves us so much he will just forgive and forget whatever we do wrong, but I still believe that God has a vision for his Church and has expressed that vision in Scripture, and that he wants us to explore it and live it out.
That’s what this blog is about.
Do you agree with the premise? Or do you think it’s a little presumptuous to explore things that are clearly beyond our limited range? In all humility, I say, let’s stiff-arm our respectful stiff-arming, and reach together for God.