What you don’t know scares you. I know this because it’s in our human nature. You might have first realized this in 6th grade when little Suzy made eyes at you two weeks ago but now is giving you mixed signals. You might be the most spacey, abstract-art, hipster type…and the unknown still scares you, even just a little bit. And so it just seems easier to throw some certainty into a situation: you dump Suzy before she dumps you, you find people that are just like you to make you feel normal and drama-free again, or you flip the tube onto Dr. Phil and write down whatever new cliche he’s pedaling. As a pastor, it seems that people are looking for me to force-feed them all the answers to life’s questions. The pressure’s mounting so much that I might just start making things up so to not deal with the expectations. I’m pretty sure many pastors have already walked down that path.
I made a decision in seminary that I wasn’t going to be like some of the pastors I experience in my youth. I wasn’t going to settle for pat answers or extract formulas for life and faith from the Bible that really didn’t exist in the minds of the original inspired writers. To keep my integrity, I was going to focus more on being descriptive rather than prescriptive. This world is too complex for cliches, but we cling to them like our favorite dessert. And if this world…our lives…are complex, that means that the Bible is equally complex because it describes how God reached down into this complicated world and revealed himself in the midst of all the drama. I happen to find comfort in that -that God shows up when I’m confused, lonely, purposeless. Deep down in my core I still believe that God shows up in the midst of a question, not in an answer. This sounds kind of crazy to me, but the more I seek to understand God and who I am in God I realize that the best answers come in “children’s sermon” form. What’s the answer to life’s questions? Jesus is the answer. What is truth? Truth is a person that walked the earth over 2000 years ago…and he was actually God.
I’ve been doing a lot of praying for Catalyst, a worshiping community that I lead. And the more I pray for answers on how to grow and make a bigger difference in the lives of others, I don’t get them. Instead I just continue to sense this beckoning to a deeper relationship with Christ for myself. Perhaps my search for all the answers is really my problem…not the worlds. Maybe God knows that the closer I am to him the more these answers really don’t matter. Maybe the maturity of faith means to sit in the fog of mystery and be OK, because the answer is Jesus…and he lives in me.