Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Perceiving What Has Always Been ...
Many today are bantering around the slogan "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it."
Apart from being simplistic, and even bordering on deception, this sloganeering completely misses the point. We believe whatever "it" is that God has said. I, for one, will go on record as believing anything that comes from the mouth of God. We also believe that whatever God has said "settles" it.
The real issue is not that God has spoken, or our believing, but our perception and understanding. People for millennia thought God said the Earth stood still and the Sun revolved around it. The problem was not what God had said . . . for indeed what he said did settle "it." But we simply did not discern the "it." That is until a man by the name of Copernicus came along in the 15th century and then another by the name of Galileo in the 17th century. Then for the first time we understood the "it." But God said "it" long before we understood "it."
I like the attitude of Thomas Fuller, a 17th century English churchman and scholar. Fuller wrote a short prayer that reveals something that is especially profound and reveals an attitude of being a perpetual learner. Let me share it with you. Fuller confessed,
"LORD, this morning I read a chapter in the Bible, and therein observed a memorable passage whereof I never took notice before. Why now, and no sooner, did I see it? Formerly my eyes were as open, and the letters as legible. Is there not a thin veil laid over Thy Word, which is more rarified by reading, and at last wholly worn away? I see the oil of Thy Word will never leave increasing whilst any bring an empty barrel."
Is this not perceptive? I believe there is wisdom here. Just when we have "it" all figured out a Galileo, a Einstein, or a Campbell comes along and subverts the entire paradigm! The truth is not new. What is new is what Fuller testifies too. We are seeing something that has always been there but we just did not see "it."
It is very sad when we find some who use that old saw "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it" as an out from having to think and study. Indeed it is quite possible that this mantra can even become a sign of rebellion. Is it not interesting that those whose eyes "took notice" of what had always been but never seen are almost always persecuted? Think of the names: John Huss, John Wycliff, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Galileo Galilei, Roger Williams, Thomas Campbell, Martin Luther King Jr . . .
The prayer prayed by Thomas Fuller can only be prayed by one who comes to the text as if it is new every morning, as if it is fresh, as if we know nothing . . . as if we expect to find something new and wonderful. The prayer is said by one who expects God to rock his/her boat and rattle his/her cage. Is this not what we want? Do we not want to be explorers in the fathomless ocean of God's wisdom and truth? Isn't that what the Christian life is all about?