I'm home for Christmas break and... yes... I've been gone far too long. It's hard to get to a computer with fast enough internet around here. I hope you read my last post on evangelism. I know it was long. I hope you had the best Christmas.
On Christmas day I went to Ashley's neighbors house and watched the Bears beat up on the poor Packers. The room I was watching in was filled with fans of both teams. At one point in the game a call was challenged by the Bears coach. I watched the room and noticed that the room was suddenly split. The expression on any given Bear fans face was pleasure "yeah good call coach... good challenge." Any given Packer fan's face showed a similar confidence but with eyes rolling as if to say "that call's good... they'll for sure lose the challenge." At that moment I realized something very important about studying the Bible.
You're probably asking "what?... what does that have to do with the Bible?" My face was probably the only one that, first of all, had a smile on it and wasn't looking at the 58'' TV. Everyone was watching the same play but were seeing something totally different.
Have you ever heard a passage of the Bible being explained by someone from another background. You can almosty immediately tell where they're coming from just by the way they begin. It's funny how so many people can read the same passage of the Bible and get something so different from you. Sometimes they share a perspective that just opens your eyes and you say "WOW... I never realized that it said that..." and sometimes you say "man this guy's totally missing the point." In either situation you realize that this person has got something different. even though you're both reading the same thing you're getting something totally different from each other.
Any time we say "well, I already understand this passage" we're closing the door to new and beautiful interperetations. The Bible is never that simple. It's complicated. This is why it's so important to read the bible in community, with others, and then discuss. And not just say what we think it means and close our minds to all the other ideas floating around the room; this is not just closed minded but it's arrogance. true discussion is dome in humility and openmindedness. We need to be humble to the point that we can admit "I don't have this all figured out... there's got to be be more to this" or even "I'm totally lost here." Nothing is more enriching that admitting you're not sure and being confortable with it. It's ok not to know everything. In fact when it comes to God there's relatively very little that can be known in the traditional sence of the word. We're just not built to understand God in all His glory. God is always deeper than what we know or what we first thought He was like. Rabbi Alexandar Seinfeld, in his book The Art Of Amazement, says "there has been no greater setback for transcendental philosophy and theology than Michelangelo's depiction of God as an old man with a long white beard." God is not small enough to fit into a painting or a poem. We can only scratch the surface of who God is. To define Him is impossible. Rabbi Seinfeld also writes that Jewish Mystics have "compared the effort to someone attempting to grasp sounds with his hand."(page 42-43) We just can't do it.
So when we admit being confused and even doubting we put ourselves in a position of authenticity. When we pretend to have it all figured out we're trying to be someone we can never be. When we doubt and question and discuss with other people who are on the same journey we're being ourselves and we're coming a bit closer, maybe, to who God created us to be.