My pastor Kevin gave a confession and challenge to us in light of the partaking of the elements of remembrance (Communion)… God asked him whether he really believed it was all about him. Was that not God begging the question whether we live this Christian life in light of what God can do for us? Should we not be more concerned about God himself? He is, after all, a pretty big deal (I don't think anything could get bigger!)
God gave me this idea to describe our problem. Imagine a village, with no significant technological advancements. The son of the chief leader ventures out into the wilderness to become a man and prepare for leadership. While out, he stumbles upon the wreckage of a plane. He is both afraid and intrigued by this lifeless metal bird. Among the things found on the plane is a textbook of anatomy and medicine. He pours over the images, and diagrams, fascinated and deciding to devote his life to the study of medicine, for his tribe.
After returning, he begins to study the similarities of the human mechanism with that of the animals they hunt. His knowledge and understanding grow, but he is far from being an expert. One day, a valuable laborer for the tribe had an accident falling out of a tree when gathering food. He broke his leg, and the son of the Chief, now respected for his skills of "healing", resets his leg and administers a splint for his recovery. The leg was not set perfectly, however, and the laborer forever had a limp as a result, constantly in pain and unable to carry heavy loads.
One day, the village is greeted by a strange traveler, in search of his missing father, an altruistic doctor who flew to this remote land to offer his services of medicine to people of the land. The doctor’s son followed in his footsteps, becoming a doctor. He even was somewhat knowledgeable of the language of the land, as he treated other tribes for the last couple years. After some time, they were able to communicate and the chief’s son now could converse with the doctor on the material he had from his father’s books. The doctor was able to speak volumes more wisdom into the technique and complexities of medicine and surgery that the chief's son couldn’t have known apart from knowing, in a sense, the author behind the knowledge.
Is this not like us, having little ability to discover the depths of our God and his purposes for the Christian Church and life without having God himself pour his vast wisdom over us? We have the Holy Scriptures, but apart from his empowering, we are greatly susceptible to read over the Bible with what we know as the discerning lens. Our self-centeredness distorts our understanding of the material and our practice of this faith walk. We think it is about us, and frame everything of this great revelation (called the Bible) in terms of how we should benefit, how it should impact us (confession: I am tired of hearing God desires for us to be saved and that He wants relationship mostly because in the eyes of the "un-reached" and some Christians too, those offers are not enticing in our culture... we can't imagine what we'd need saving from and relationships suck, even with God because we suck, so a relationship with God is no different than any other relationship) and we neglect to ever truly live out this life as the Author intended it, because we are separated from the Author. It is only when the Author shows up and communicates with us that we see that God has so much more for us, and has communicated already through the text of what that is, but the untrained student, blinded by his or her perspective, misses that message because (s)he has not yet been discipled by the author.
I sense that writing what I did can come across as arrogant, as if I hold the true answer and other Christians have just had it wrong the whole time. I am in no place to claim superior wisdom. In fact, all I know of God is because He reveals it to me, allowing me to understand His ways though I'm so entrenched in my own ways, as if I did anything to learn the things I know now. I think it is in John that describes how the world can know those hard after God: they obey Jesus' words. I suck at that. And the fruit of the Spirit is lacking in me often... So I really feel unqualified to boast, even if it is in what Christ has done for me. I need the Body, the Church, to help me out with seeming credible. Perhaps I feel like I know so much, because I do, but in order for God to keep my pride in check, He keeps me messed up. Perhaps when the whole Church worships in authentic praise together to a glorious God, all He really wants of us (that and taking that knowledge to those that haven't heard yet) will be fulfilled, and things won't seem so awfully hopeless.
I know I sure feel no more alive than when I'm prostrate or paralyzed by the awe He evokes in me when I submit to His wholeness. What is He waiting for to get everyone involved? When will He make us all of one accord?