How Little We Know

Posted by Scott Foster on

When I think about God I think of a person who would never murder or kill anyone. But when you think about it you wonder because wasn’t it God who swept the angel of death over Egypt? It makes you think doesn’t it? Is God against it or is he not? I mean what had the boys done to die? It was the Pharaoh wasn’t it? Now do you realise how little we know about God?
I hope this made you think, thanks for listening.

 — Lucy, 9 years old

 We’ve been studying the Brian McLaren book, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World's Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian. Loosely, the book is about a cosmic shift from “right belief” to “right practice” in following Jesus. McLaren is a leading progressive Christian author who recently spoke about the migration in New Zealand. Lucy’s little sermon was written in response to the conflicting signals she, as a 9-year-old, gets when she reflects on the Bible. In one blessed move, she makes an incredible theological leap that often takes much more educated and seasoned adults years, decades even, to make. This book is awesome, by the way!

The Bible is full of hope, faith, love, miracles, stories of redemption, repentance, contradiction, controversy, pain, punishment, life and death, acts of God and more. It’s a collection of Spirit-driven peoples, following God (or not), and writing their tribal histories trying to make some sense of the triumphs and injustices in their societies, their politics, their world and God’s power (or not). The Bible is humankind’s best effort to make sense of what God is doing with their world, what God is doing with them.

You may notice that I put it on “them.” The Bible is firstly imperfect as a human construct as it reflects on their life, their times, and what God may or may not be doing in their world. It survives through history. If you look at it through that lens, you immediately see the problem with airlifting scripture out of ancient times and drop-shipping them literally into 2017. I’m sure you can think of a number of instances when the problem rears its head.  

Though the nature of church and preaching, this blog, eNews, etc. may often seem a bit like one-way “broadcasting,” it really is a group conversation. We call it “Presbyterian.” We’re all in different places on this journey, and either in person or via technology, the conversation is always rolling in the foreground or the background 24/7.

Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore (who has been accused of child sexual assault) is being supported by a number of evangelicals citing Bible and the age difference between Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents. We’re not really sure how old Mary was but the assumption is that she was betrothed to Joseph as a young teen.

Men controlled the sexuality of the women in those days. It was the custom (as awful as this is) for fathers to give away their young daughters as wives to older men in a business transaction. Applying this ancient understanding morally in today’s culture is a huge violation—very problematic. You immediately see the problem on so many levels.

Charles Courtney wrote to me this week wondering if these evangelicals are thereby disavowing the virgin birth. That’s good comedy, but it’s not really that funny as it sinks in, is it?

You see the problem.

I got another email this week from a new friend to our church. He points out the emptiness of the “thoughts and prayers” offered by politicians every time one of these horrendous terrorist acts of gun violence takes place. Another one just today! (Wednesday) This is NOT normal. We cannot accept the normalizing of it in the midst of the politicizing. We cannot accept inaction from our leaders!

The Book of James is pretty clear on this problem, from Chapter 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Here’s an instance where the scripture could have been ripped from the headlines this morning! I thought this was so relevant and true, it made the sermon Sunday! That’ll preach! Thank you, Matt!

And if you made it this far this week—thanks for taking this walk with me, no matter where you are on it. You’re welcome here. By God, literally, this is what we do—together. I get a lot of comfort in that.

Here’s the thing—I keep learning over and over and over again how little I know.

Thanks again, Lucy—

Now do you realise how little we know about God?
I hope this made you think, thanks for listening.

Grace & Peace,
Scott

 

 

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