The questions are familiar, and some variation may be one of the first sentences we learn to form when we grow up traveling somewhere often. “Are we there yet?” the child says from the backseat. “How much longer?” asks the bored teenager. “Shouldn’t we be there by now?” the adult passenger asks his spouse.
Parents learn games passed down through generations in an attempt to shift focus toward the scenery. “I spy with my own eye…” says the participant, as he waits for the impatient travelers to guess what he’s referring to. “Is it the snow on the trees, the ice forming on the rock next to the road?” comes a response.
I once traveled from Detroit to Montreal by overnight train. Unable to sleep, I tried to imagine the scenery outside the window as we zipped past cars waiting for us to pass. But mostly, all that was outside my restricted view was darkness. “Were those sheep?” I wondered. Where is that truck headed?” I arrived the following day exhausted from a night of questions with no answers.
Pastor Haley is speaking at Asbury this week. In her article introducing Sunday’s message, she shares some of her experiences with questions that she expected to be answered when she attended seminary. Her’s is a common expectation that I also recall for myself. Her article reminds me of my own experience.
Spoiler alert. I still have as many questions as I did on that first day of seminary. Many are different, mostly because I’ve given up on getting answers to earlier questions.
I’ll never forget my first day in a class listed in the course schedule as “The Theology of God.” Wouldn’t you think that this is a great class for getting answers to a few of the more difficult questions? This is what I thought too.
The professor introduced our first assignment. It was the first of three papers that would determine our grade in the class, and it was due in a few weeks. So, of course, there was plenty of reading offering insight for us to draw on in our efforts to impress the professor with our knowledge. And I couldn’t wait to get started until I heard the question forming the paper’s premise. A three-word question, “Does God exist?”
“What? Did I hear you right? I thought this was why we were all here. Because God exists, we’re here to learn all about what that means so we can teach others.” The thoughts in my head buzzed around a shrinking chunk of knowledge that we believers label as faith.
There’s a line in a song I haven’t heard in a while, and I can’t remember the title. The song is written from the pastor’s perspective, who sings, “I’ve got questions too!” But am I supposed to keep my questions to myself? If you all find out that I also have questions, won’t your new-found knowledge diminish my credibility?
God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ …everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence.
Paul believed that God existed and dedicated his life to living by the rules found in the first five books of what we now call the Old Testam ent. He was a belief lawyer, familiar with the finer points of law and capable of interrogating others who fell short of expectations.
Everything changed for Paul after an encounter with the resurrected Jesus. Years later, Paul writes that every one of us falls short of expectations. Elsewhere, Paul makes a claim to being the worse of the worst.
But his life-changing epiphany didn’t end in despair. Instead, Paul learned that not only does God realize we’re far from perfect, but we’re incapable of perfection.
So why didn’t God just smite us to use an outdated biblical word? The explanation is spelled out as a recurring theme throughout scripture. God loves us despite our imperfections. We are God’s creation, which matters to God more than perfection.
Keep in mind that God loves all creation and consider what this means God wants from us as stewards of our earth.
What Paul realized and shared in letters is an interpretation of the stories found in the Gospels. God loves us and chose to live with us as evidence of that love. And all we have to do to be reconciled with God, no matter how flawed we might be, is to believe this. Simple enough?
Hold on! Yes, I believe this, but I still have questions.
I hope that you’ll join us to hear Pastor Haley’s message. But if you’re somewhere else, like Open Door Church, where Haley is pastor, the broadcast is available to view later.
You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
Content for this series is based in part on:
Barnabas Piper. Help My Unbelief: Why doubt is not the enemy of faith © Barnabas Piper, 2020. Charlotte : The Good Book Company.