Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What I’m Learning at Regent

Sometimes it felt like a chorus. The same concerned warning coming from all sides – church, friends, even students. I understood their concern and even, deep down, shared it.

Don’t just learn about God . . .

The great danger in studying theology, it seems, is the tendency to examine, measure, and turn God over and inside out until he is fixed in a formulated phrase, sprawling on a pin. But no one thought to warn me about the other possibility, one I myself could hardly have expected.

No one warned me that I might have to fight to maintain my composure in a 3-hour lecture. No one thought to mention that, if you give your mind and heart over to the study of the intersection of the Timeless One with time, he might be more than you can bear. No one even suggested that such an endeavour could possibly result in the heart and the mind being overwhelmed and stuck dumb with wonder at the Holy One of Israel.

No one warned me about Jesus.

That may sound surprising considering I’ve literally grown up in my faith, in the same way I’ve grown up in my own skin. But the great gift of studying is that, the more I learn about Jesus, the more I study (or am forced to study for an exam) just what he was on about, the more captivating he becomes.

We get used to saying the great creedal statements, “the only begotten son of the father; God from God, light from light, true God of true God . . . “ and we know that we know these things, these great Truths . . . but to stand in the presence of the One who fashioned the ever expanding universe with just a word, the One who causes mountains to tremble, kingdoms to rise and fall, the great and terrible Holy One, often seems somewhat distant from our crafted creeds, clappy choruses and even our careful exegesis.

But every Wednesday I get to go to a New Testament survey course and I am told stories I have heard my entire life. I am told stories I have told to others. I am told stories that I have never heard in this way before. Every week, it seems as though I become a Christian all over again as I sit in awe, overwhelmed by excitement and passion at the great and terrible Jesus. I sit in wonder as my heart whispers, trembling, “truly, this man is the Son of God.”

Such a statement is probably too simple a thing for most of you to expect us to learn at “bible college.” Shouldn’t we have already known this? Yes. And No. The Incarnation, that the God of the cosmos became a human so that we might be restored as His image bearers and be indwelled by that very God, is something we only ever half-guess, only ever half-understand.

This is why my greatest struggle is to not burst into tears two hours in to a three-hour lecture. I am surprised and amazed again by Jesus, the Holy One, who is filled with compassion for us, for me. It is far too great and glorious a thing for my feeble mind to grasp. And it is truly wonderful.


Pastor Astor said...

Thank you for this wonderful post!
I agree fully!
Studying theology was like giving God permission to bulldoze all my frames of understanding. I thought I knew Him, and by that I had fitted Him within structures in my brain and heart. They where all blown to bits.

I feel a special bond to Paul. I now understand his habit to break out in worship while making theology - if it is done right, you just can't help yourself.

Sib said...

The reason we didn't say that it because beiming plasé about God is a negative thing, while becoming increasinly in awe of our Creator is definitely something that would benefit every Christian. Phillipians 2:12b comes to mind in this context, and while I'm NOT at a bible college, to me it seems relevant. "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..."

Edwin C