Some time ago I read a great article at Rethink Monthly titled: Passages I’ll Never Preach. What I expected was some list of difficult passages. What I found was an article that has been in and out of my thoughts for weeks. The article is more about questions than answers, which is why it is fantastic and frustrating at the same time. It’s kind of messy, in my opinion. But then again, so is life. These are the sections that I can’t get out of my mind. (The portions in bold are direct quotes from the article.)
- In the first chapter of Hosea God instructs prophet Hosea to find and marry a prostitute, then have children with her. One of the children is a little girl that God tells them to name Lo-Ruhamah, which means “not loved.” In verse 6 God gives his reason, but this is a child. A little girl. Why would God want anyone to live life with the name “not loved”? Surely God could have come up with another way to communicate his point.
- Have you ever examined your life or gone through something…or even helped a freind or relative through something and you just can’t find rational explanation for its occurrence? What do we do when we can’t seem to find an explanation or resolution? We live with the ambiguity. Maybe we seek answers through books about the Christian faith. The problem is we only get the result. The final product. How did the authors get to that point? I want to hear about their sleepless nights, agonizing in despair. What I want to read is a book written by someone who is bold enough to list all of his unanswered questions but is still willing to die for his faith.
- Our faith is about a relationship with Jesus, not an adherence to a set of intellectual ideas we can memorize and master… Jesus and his disciples were in relationship with each other, and that relationship took precedence over the disciples’ need to have all their questions answered. This leaves me wondering what I am giving precedence in my relationship with Christ. Am I seeking answers or am I seeking a deeper relationship with Christ?
As I continue to digest this I am constantly reminded of the lesson a friend taught me: God loves us and accepts us “warts and all.” I am haunted recently by an answer Bono gave in an interview circa 1980something – the interviewer was bombarding him with questions about what each song meant and he finally said, “my songs are about questions, not answers.” I learned in college that professing Christians and the “unsaved” both went out and partied like rock stars; the heathens were at least honest about the hangover. I was raised with black and white; do and don’t; good and bad. The older I get the more I realize we live in shades of gray. I never thought I would do some of the things I have done in my life. The good and the bad. I never thought I would inflict the wounds I have inflicted. I never believed that my character could be as desperately flawed as it was.
When he talks about the sleepless nights in this article… I know those. I scratch my head wondering why I couldn’t have learned things in a different way. Couldn’t God teach me the same lesson with less damage? Then I keep meeting more and more people that have been just as broken. Then the flawed characters in the Bible make more sense and the concept of grace basically drips from its pages.
I don’t know. Read and consider the article as a whole. Think about your life and the lives of those you care for. Does everything make perfect sense to you? This is life. This is reality. It might get loud and messy and sloppy. Sometimes we color outside the lines. But it still makes me wonder sometimes.
Which comes first: My relationship with Jesus or my need for answers?