If you are a church leader (however that looks) then you are fully aware that while these may be the worst of times for the church in NA, you have to admit that they are also the best of times. One of the things that intrigues me are the many challenging issues that we are facing, or having to deal with. Better than all of that is the fact that agreement on these issues is hard to find within denominations.
I love it because the church is waking up to the fact that they do not really have a handle on just who this God is that we serve! In my personal faith journey over the last thirty years there have been two instances or thoughts – actually, make that three – that have reminded me again and again that I’m only scratching the surface of who God is.
The first time I was slapped upside the head to the reality that I know nothing of God was in my teens. I have this fascination of the cosmos. It all started with a trip to the McLauglin Planetarium in Toronto in my last year of high school. As I sat in this dark theatre gazing at the ceiling displaying the universe, I listened as the presenter told us that the distance of one light year is about 6 trillion miles. As he went on to explain that there are thousands of light years between us and other galaxies, my jaw fell open. And then when I heard him explain that the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5 megalight-years from us (1 megalight-year = 1 million light years), my brain went into spasm. Years later I thought: “Is it possible that there are things of God I don’t have a clue about?” Duh.
The second instance occurred in my Basic (systematic) Theology course that I took in my first year of Bible college. I remember sitting in class and the discussion was on the doctrine of creation. The prof stated the various views that were out there, and I’m sure that the majority of us were expecting him to tell us what the obvious ‘correct’ belief was (God created the earth in seven actual 24 hour days). Instead he pointed out the pros and cons of the various views and reminded us that there were God-fearing avid followers of Jesus who believed views that differed from ours. And then he asked this question: “Can God still be God to you and take a billion years to complete his creation as we know it? Is he free to take as long as he wants in whatever he does, and still be God?”
My answer wasn’t, “Well of course he can.” Instead I had to ponder that and ask myself, “Is it really possible that certain specific beliefs that we ‘true believers’ hold may be flawed?” In an instant I was humbled and my list of ‘everything-that-I-know-is-true-of-God’ shrunk.
Oh yes, the other thing that was a reminder to me was again in Bible College studying Job. I was reading chapter 26 where Bildad and Job are having a discussion on the greatness of God and his creation, and in verse 11 Job states, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” Job is right! My understanding of God is not even in the fringe – it’s the outer fringe!
There are times on a Sunday morning, just before I’m about to speak where I wonder: “Who am I to think that I can speak on behalf of God?” I dread the day when the church in North America hears this thunderous voice asking: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” You can bet I’ll be running for cover.