Now, I know I can be a drama queen… But, seriously – I just heard one of the best talks I have possibly ever heard. The following is my attempt to share a little of the awe and worship inspired in me…
Beginning as what appeared to be a history lesson in the modulation of the definition of truth over time, I just knew it would be worth the work to stay focussed and follow his lead.
It was all really well presented and explained (if a little boring for your average student): the state (ie the church) used to define the Truth – “We say it, its true”; then science became dictator of what was true by declaring that if it could present proof of something, it must be true (and by implication, things like faith and religion which could not be proved must not exist…); then it gradually became the more recent “there is no absolute truth” (which of course in itself is ridiculous as – in its very stating – it claims absolute truth. Duh.).
So, then he talked about the Bible and self-referential, propostional truth (All males are men, Jesus was male so Jesus must be a man). I got a little lost at this point, but it was all vaguely familiar from stuff I did at Bible College and in my final year French degree philosophy module – maybe someone else can fill in this gap, cos I haven’t grasped it well enough to re-explain it here…
Cue a tiny bit of zoning out as I try to write something down in my notes that will help me later on…
Suddenly, he begins to talk about the invitation the Bible offers to discover relational truth. Truth that is shown to be true by the experience of it and the effect that it has and a little flicker of light begins to dance in the peripheral of my mind…
He begins to talk about looking at the moon from a hill, and how one might call to mind numerous scientific facts about the nature of – truth about – the moon: its so many miles away from earth, its made of such-and-such, reflects so much of the sun’s light etc etc etc… But, then he talks about sitting on the same hill, looking at the same moon, but in this scenario you’re falling in love with the person you are with and suddenly the moon has altogether much more significance than a bunch of scientific trivia. It no longer signifies the amount of sunlight it reflects back to earth- it casts a romantic glow over your encounter with love. It no longer signifies the amount of miles it is away from earth – it serves to remind you how big the world is and how glad you are to have someone to share it with…
My heart starts to beat faster as the flicker of light grows and glows to an incredible illumination of the genius of God (my puny attempt to name the glorious sovereignty and omniscience etc of my God…).
You see, God began to tell his people what he was like, how he intended his creation to be. He chose Israel to display his character to the nations with laws that cared for the poor and needy, secured rest for the busy, gave shelter for fugitives, brought forgiveness to screw-ups… But he didn’t stop there.
He became flesh and dwelt among us.
Creator God engaging with and participating in a world of broken humanity.
He took those laws and lived out what they really meant, his whole life demonstrates how the law works out in practice – ie relationally! Things like “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man”. (Man was not made for grace, but grace was made for Man? Can that be right? I don’t know if that’s right. But I’m gonna write it…test it, try it, eat it, drink it, breathe it… and see what happens). By His life, he invites us to experience his truth, invites us to even enter the relational nature of his being: Father, Son and Spirit in perfect relationship with each other.
“I am the way, the truth and the life”. Yes, we need creeds and study and books and practice, but it is in incarnating the gospel – the good news of Jesus – that we see and know God’s truth at work in us and through us! Theology without faith is dead – dry bones in a desert valley.
In engaging with the world around us – the undesirables, the suffering, the enemy – we truly begin to understand the absolutely true-ness of God’s love, justice and mercy… and the Truth sets us free. I KNOW this! I’ve seen it before, but I’d forgotten. How could I have forgottten?
Why did I get so excited? Not just because I’m a drama queen – but because its just what I need. My God teaches me in just the way I need. So often I feel inadequate in discussing theology, incapable of understanding and articulating the truth, incapacitated in dealing and engaging with hurt and guilt and conflict… But to hear again that God came down to show me how? That he will show me more of that truth as I follow and obey his call? That he IS proving his truth in and through me in a way that even I can totally understand?
The difference between space rock reflecting sunlight and moonlit romance.
The difference between a DIY manual and a constant workmate.
The difference between systems of theology and a relationship with the Living God.
The difference between death and LIFE.
That makes all the difference in the world.