A Man (or Woman) Has To Know Their Limitations…. (where Theology and Philosophy differ)
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
6 Jesus answered them, “How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote: ‘These people, says God, honour me with their words,
but their heart is really far away from me. 7 It is no use for them to worship me,
because they teach human rules as though they were God’s laws!’ 8 “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”
9 And Jesus continued, “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching. Mark 7:6-9 TEV
This, then, is God’s kingship—a love that is impregnable and an inventiveness that finds man by ways that are always new. For us, consequently, God’s kingship means that we must have an unshakeable confidence. For this is still true and is applicable to every single life: no one has reason to fear or to capitulate. God can always be found!
In philosophy we seek the things which are certain and distinguish them from the things which are uncertain. And the causes of certainty are universal experience, the principles, and demonstrations. But in the teaching of the church the cause of certainty is the revelation of God. And we must consider what meaning has been given by God to a subject.
There is a huge challenge for any pastor or teacher of scripture. It doesn’t matter whether you are working with people seeking God, or those who have been in church leadership 40 years or more. It doesn’t matter whether teaching you are teaching 3-year-olds, or graduate students.
You don’t have the authority to speak and teach where scripture is silent as if it was a true as where scripture does speak. Nor do you have the authority to change what scripture says, just because you think it is no longer relevant.
There are a number of reasons, one being that we are too often too lazy to study all the scripture, and are reacting to one verse that we don’t particularly care for, or are reacting to someone’s interpretation, rather than working through it.
The primary reason is simpler; we aren’t to make ourselves God. We aren’t all-knowing, or all-powerful, and we are prone to interpret things through our own brokenness. We want to be certain of things, and there is much in life that we cannot be certain of because of our limitations.
We aren’t God.
And God, in His wisdom, has chose to reveal to us that which we really need. Through both nature (general revelation) and through scripture (specific revelation). Just like the scientist cannot deny the effect of gravity, neither can the philosopher deny the effect and the only cure for sin. Both may try to use it, circumvent it, delay its effects, but at the end of the day, and at the end of life, they cannot.
Or as my friend the cardiologist says, every time I make a break-thru and do something completely wondrous, I get a catch a common cold and remember I am not God. Each time I think I am a mature believer, I am reminded that maturity is not found in independence from God, but humble dependence.
This is hard because there are things we like and enjoy, and may even base our lives on, that are sinful. There may be fears and pains we deal with, that affect our lives. And we want to manipulate scripture and what we call our faith to deal with it.
Is it no wonder that David sings and prays this advice from God, “be still, and know that I am God!”? Or Paul reminds himself continually that when he is weak, then he can see the power of God at work?
That is the blessing that Pope Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger) points out in the quote in green. Knowing our weakness, our limitations means that we can also know the comfort in Jesus being King. For when we humbly walk with Him, we realize that the love He envelops us with is impregnable, that shows His wisdom in the way He becomes incarnate, not just in the womb of Mary, and in the manger, but in our lives.
Knowing God as He finds us, helps us “find” Him. To find Him here, even as we struggle with not understanding His reasons, or His rules that protect us, or the blessing He pours out on those we struggle with in life. It helps us run to Him, with less and less hesitation, asking to be cleansed of sin, that we may rejoice in His love, and the limitations He gives us, that we may realize He is, and loves, and draws us into His glorious joy.
So next time you think about placing your wisdom about God’s word, think again, and humbly walk with Him. And then say a prayer that I may as well!
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Chemnitz, Martin, and Jacob A. O. Preus. Loci Theologici. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Print.