Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When Thinking Fails Us

In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. (‭Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭21‬)

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through human reasoning, it pleased God through the apparent foolishness of what we preach to save those who believe. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭20-21‬)

Jesus and Paul both make this abundantly clear- our ability to reason, to think it all through logically and figure everything out, is overrated. In fact, the above verses seem to indicate God makes it difficult, perhaps impossible, to come to know him through analytical thinking. We can't come to God the way we might decide where to study or which hotel to stay at on vacation. We can't line up the facts and sift through the data and then simply go with the best bet. Both passages actually claim  that  God is pleased to thwart our purely mental efforts to figure him out!

Our nature is generally tempted to try to be smarter than God. To think we are wiser, or more conscientious, or more progressive, than God. To think that our own minds are trustworthy enough to land us in the right place.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. With all humanity's philosophy and brilliance, no one in the ancient world was able to correctly discover what God was like. Plato and Socrates, Bhudda and Confucius, with all their instructive discoveries and realizations, were not able to reason themselves into the knowledge of the covenant keeping creator, the redeemer who loves us with unfailing love. No, it took something that challenged everything our human reasoning thought it understood. It took a miracle working carpenter walking out of his grave three days after his execution and saying, "Now you know what God is like. He is better than you thought. He is forgiving and extravagant, sacrificial and empowering. He is love."

It's not highly developed thinking that leads us to God, and be thankful for it! That would be a God for only the intelligent and the privileged, not a God for all of us. But God the father of Jesus is a God we come to know only when we humble ourselves, admit we don't know it all and can't figure it out, and then meet with the risen Jesus. We are no different than the disciples- we need an encounter with the resurrected King if we are ever to see clearly.

And such an encounter is exactly what Jesus invites us to come, as children, and receive.


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