Knowing God

Awhile back I had a discussion, well, let’s say a momentary interchange, with one of the pastoral leaders of the church I was attending. I was excited about the scriptures, in that they were becoming alive for me in ways that I had not experienced previously. I mentioned to him that I did not think that the Bible was a users manual for humans. It’s purpose is not so much to tell us how to behave as it was to reveal God’s love for the Cosmos. Although, there are things that point to how God expects those who are called as God’s children to live and act, this was secondary. My point being that unless we allow God’s word to transform us internally, the external things are of little importance. His response was that the Bible is a guide to living a morally and godly life. That it is imperative to follow the guidelines and precepts present in the text in order to please God.
Hmmm….I don’t think so. In Jesus’ day there were groups of people who thought like this pastor. We know them as Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees loved Yahweh. They tried to follow the Torah in their everyday lives. They followed all of the prescribed behaviors in order to respond in righteousness to the grace they had received as God’s chosen people. This kind of thinking led Paul to state that he was, in fact, righteous according to the Law. But, the Pharisees missed something. Jesus said about them, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Many today, like this pastor, think that by reading, memorizing, and attempting to apply the scripture as if it is law, they will achieve righteousness and, ultimately, eternal life. Yet, like the Pharisees, they aren’t able to “come to me” and receive life.
Like the Sadducees who were mistaken about the resurrection, people today impose on God presuppositions that limit what they allow God to be. They have an idea of how God is supposed to work, and try to fit the scriptures to that small understanding of the Creator/Yahweh who walked among us. Jesus’ response? “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mark 12:24). We all try to fit the infinite Yahweh Elohim into our finite minds. We are not built to grasp and understand the transcendent. But, we do God, the very good creation, and ourselves a great disservice when we try to do that very thing. God will not be fitted to our image. God, on the other hand, will try to make us into the image dei.

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