Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pondering differences

and scizms. . . Speaking as someone who avoids fitting into boxes or categories - I'm pondering, wondering, asking questions again. It's inevitable. The curse of one who sees things from far too many perspectives.

I'm wondering if every generation sees scripture through the lens of their time in a way that enables us to know God in way that previous generations didn't. If you grow up in a more scientific or technological time won't you approach the Word that way and see God that way? If you grow up in a more community oriented or relationally focused time, won't you approach the Word and see God that way? If you grow up more individualistic and independent? The Word doesn't change, God doesn't change we may just have eyes and heart tuned to different sides of Him because of the times we live in. The Word doesn't change, God doesn't change but the points of reference we use to understand it may change even from subculture to subculture. Was that what Jesus meant when he said, "he who has eyes to see...," "he who has ears to hear. . ."?

I wonder if cultural ideological rebounds are inevitable. When we focus on scientific thinking to an extreme, doesn't it seem reasonable that the next generation will take their thinking in the opposite direction? Yet all of those qualities that fight with each other are in fact sides of who God is. His law word and His compassionate understanding, His justice and His forgiveness. His caring about a sparrow and His judgement of a nation. There's probably more. Even what we discover of God, what He reveals to us through His Son and His Holy Spirit is so much bigger than the one of us understanding. Bigger than one family or one church or one nation or one generation... Perhaps that's why the orthodox come to a place in their thinking where all they can say is, "It's a mystery!"

Can I believe that God is God and always will be who He says He is and believe that the scriptures are true in every generation and every situation and still understand that not all of life's interrelationships are black and white? If the Living Word were always black and white would we have all the "Bible supported" controversies that we have? Can His word be true and all that the scriptures say about themselves for every generation without legalism, without fundamentalism or is there a time for that, too? Can God be the same yesterday, today, and forever and still be the Living God through generations that keep changing culturally?

My children don't all know me the same way. My grandchildren won't all know me the same way, either. My kids are pretty perceptive about 2008. Would they have been different people in 1908? Would they think differently? Would they process life differently? Even with the same scriptures would they know God differently just because of the time in which they lived? My faith thinking and understanding now, in 2008, isn't the same as it was in the '60's and 70's or in the 80's and 90's. My grandparents and great-grandparents were devout Christians but they expressed their faith quite differently at the turn of the century than I have at different point in my life. Has God changed? No. Has His Word changed? No. My parents and siblings express their faith in ways that are more similar to my grandparents and great-grandparents but they also have less interaction with and are less influenced by a diverse urban culture. There are ways we're all quite different but ways that our faith is the same.

God used the time of Adam and Eve to reveal something of Himself to man, the times of the law and fleeing Egypt, the times of kings and prophets, the times of exile, the times of Christ and the apostles... revealing something of Himself to those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Whether God made you more relational or more scientific in your approach to life will inevitably affect how you approach and understand God. Is one "better" than the other? Does it depend on the task at hand and having the understandings we need to accomplish that task? Some people have skills and understanding that I don't possess that enable them to do jobs that I can't do well. And the opposite is true. So we need each other. We need to respect and honor each other whether we agree or not because we need each other. We need every part of the Body God's given us to. I'm thinking that Christ expects one Bride, not many - mentally stable, not schizophrenic.

So what? Just pondering. Just wondering. Still asking questions...

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