Walk Away With Wonder and Wondering

After some rather significant discussion about the last few verses of 2 Peter chapter 2, one of the ladies in our Sunday Bible Study class asked me “Why are you going here? There are plenty of other churches out there.”   Naturally, I had a reply to her question. Once my reply was offered the discussion continued. At the end of the class she came up and attempted to explain her question and asked again, “why are you going here.”  I looked at her and simply pointed to the teacher and said, “Because of him.” 

I enjoy our class leader. He’s smart, well rounded in the full context of scripture and not afraid to tackle tough questions. That aside, the interesting part of the ladies question and its implication got me thinking. Is it necessary for us all to believe alike in order to study and worship together?  If we all thought the same thing and saw scripture through the same eyes, what value is there in that? Who gains anything by pooling like-mindedness? Is there nothing more to learn from the biblical text? Has it all been mined?  If so, why do theologians continue to write books? Why are new commentaries being printed and old ones revised?  Is it necessary that we all drink from the same well when it comes to some of the thorny issues of the biblical text?

It’s important that lively and pointed discussion take place when it comes to scripture. My beliefs today are not at all what they were ten or fifteen years ago, nor should they be – If I’m not growing than shame on me.  I’m reading a book now that’s stretching my understanding of the Gospels. I’m not in agreement with everything the author says, but I can appreciate his position and it causes me to think as I read the four Gospels and seek to understand their message. To me, that’s what growth is all about. 

If we look at the ministry of Jesus we can see significant changes in how his ministry unfolded and not always for the better, I might add. When first starting out, it seemed all would flock to his teaching and when he called the Twelve they responded without the least hesitation. However, as the hands of time moved along, his ministry became more and more controversial. Not in his message, but in how his message was received. For many of the religious leaders it was negative. For the Twelve it was often bewilderment turning to “now we believe.” That’s how we are at times. In the beginning of our faith we soak it all up like a sponge and then we begin hearing different applications of the text, read different authors, maybe take a seminary class or two and find that the fields are fertile with challenging ideas and they push us to come to terms with our original belief system. We should not question things because we don’t believe; we should question things because we want to believe. We want our faith to be just that our faith. Let’s not be interested in going along to get along. Let’s seek to be challenged and to come to terms with the message of the text ourselves.

When we read scripture and attend Bible studies, we should want to think, to noodle, to ponder the text and dissect it so we not only understand it, but find out how to apply it to our life. There are times when we will look but don’t see, hear the words but don’t hear the message. There are those moments when, like the Twelve, we can hear Jesus saying, “Where is your faith?” or “Do you not understand that I was not talking about bread but about the leaven of the Pharisees?” Yes, let’s choose to have our mind engaged as well as our heart. To have the text pierce not only our emotions but our understanding so we walk away from the text with both wonder and wondering.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Walk Away With Wonder and Wondering

  1. Here’s what I think about this. We should grow. This is true. However, there is some things that are not up for discussion Scripturally. God changes not.

    Sometimes there are differences doctrinally and we argue the truth amongst ourselves. The Bible tells us to give the truth, not to argue the truth. Yet, some get very protective of their interpretation of Scripture and theology. However, there are only five essential doctrines to which there are no compromises:

    1) The deity of Christ (John 1:1; John 8:58; 1 John 4:2, 3)
    2) Salvation by grace (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Galatians 5:4)
    3) Resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17 )
    4) Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
    5) Monotheism (1 Timothy 2:5)

    Everything else is up for discussion and is not a deal breaker in terms of the Kingdom and in the scheme of things. Everything else is denominational and non-essential doctrine. There is unity in essential doctrine and liberty in non-essential doctrine, but we should not let our liberty be a stumbling block for others, for in all things there is charity

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    • Norm

      Thanks for the comment James. I appreciate your thoughts.

      This is just the thing I was speaking of in some respects. Out of your list, there’s not one that couldn’t and hasn’t been questioned in some regard and with validity. Some have entire “theologies” built around them that are very different. And yes, denominational differences are built precisely on the discussion points for those things you call essentials. That doesn’t mean the list is misrepresentative of the essentials, it simply means you see them as the five essentials similar to what our church sees as its essentials. For you they are non-negotiable. For others, not so much.

      Without going into too much detail let’s simply look at one – “The Gospel of Christ.” That’s Paul’s gospel and valid with regard to salvation and the resurrection’s role in that process as it’s proclaimed to the Gentiles. But I would offer it’s not Jesus’ gospel. His gospel was the kingdom of God has come. Those who believe in the Messiah will learn what it means to be people of the kingdom. He summed it up in the great text from Deut. regarding loving God and loving our neighbor. He spoke about the characteristics of kingdom people in the great sermon and he spoke of the kingdom in most of his parables.

      So, when we talk about the “gospel” its important to know which gospel we’re talking about. Is it the “roman road” or is it the gospel
      of the kingdom?

      I know, you probably need a cup of joe after this one! 🙂

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      • James C Warren

        Sounds good. If a someone says with certainy that the sun sets in the west, someone, somewhere will argue that it sinks in the east. So i agree with ur original assessment. Thanks for the time spent on response. Very good. Later bro. Keep writing.

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