For the past several weeks I’ve been asking about Jesus. Who is he? What was the point of his mission? What is the purpose of the church? How are Jesus and the church related? How do I pray to Jesus/in the name of Jesus? There are more uncertainties for me right now than certainties. People who dish out answers so quickly to these queries drop low on my spectrum of legitimacy right now.
Here is a picture of one of my favorite professors at Fuller, systematics guru, Colin Brown. Isn't this picture awesome? (I can't figure out how to get it smaller.) I sit in his Christology and Soteriology class twice a week and wonder more. In our discussion about the Quest for the Historical Jesus we noted how some scholars want to evade the entire mission and say that we know all there is to know about Jesus via Scripture and centuries of preaching Jesus. Others in favor of the mission counter-attack with the historical situation of first-century Palestine, the Jewish animosity towards Jesus, etc. Without full understanding of these social/religious/political issues, we'll never really, fully know him.
At this point, we moved to a discussion of faith. If everything in life is so challenging and complex at times--to the point where we don't know which bracket to complete on our tax forms, we're diagnosed with cancer and we don't know which treatment to have or if we should even have treatment, we have worries about the best way to raise our children, and the list goes on--if all of this mundane, life-stuff is such a challenge, then why would we expect faith to be any different? Why do scholars and individuals in the church want to boil down Scripture, God, and kingdom living to the point that it only exists as simple, clear vapors in the air rather than rumbling, substantial, scary-hot water? Faith and knowing Jesus and understanding Scripture are difficult things.
Dr. Brown sought instruction through song to further his point:
Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me
And talk with me
Along life's narrow way
Christ Jesus lives today
You ask me how I know he lives
He lives within my heart
A familiar hymn, no doubt for us Baptists! We must sing this with caution, he warns. For we only know of the Jesus who is in our hearts based on the Jesus we know in Scripture--the tendential, manipulated, multi-focus book that it is. For this reason we also must beware of the childhood favorite
Jesus loves me this I know
for the Bible tells me so...
In other words, what does the Bible really tell? Well, I plan on teaching this song to Livia (I sing it to her every night as I lay her into bed). But I couldn't agree more. So where does this leave me...still with lots of questions. If the quest to know Jesus--and all that it entails is worth committing my life to, which I believe it is, then I don't want to cheapen it with theologically shallow worship.
Yesterday at PMC we sang a lovely hymn in remembrance of the VTech victims. It is a hymn that I plan on singing again as prayer to this man, messiah, Jesus.
"A Prayer for our Children"
1. God, we have heard it, sounding in the silence:
news of the children lost to this world's violence.
Children of promise!
Then without warning,
loves ones are mourning.
2. Jesus, you came to bear our human sorrow;
you came to give us hope for each tomorrow.
You are our life, Lord,
God's own love revealing.
We need your healing.
3. Heal us from giving weapons any glory;
help us, O Prince of Peace, to hear your story;
help us resist the evil all around here;
may love abound here!
4. By your own Spirit, give your church a clear voice;
in this world's violence,
help us make a new choice.
Help us to witness to the joy your peace brings,
until your world sings!
Now this is a song I can sing today without worry.