Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

When Easter is all Greek to me. Part 2

with one comment

My mom celebrated Easter this past Sunday. And God always reminds me through her this time of year that Jesus didn’t put up intellectual barriers to his grace, his love and his joy.

My mom, a believing Orthodox, is functionally illiterate. She was never able to read the Bible on her own, mediate on it and memorize scripture. All the theology that she knows was learned in the oral tradition, through word pictures on stained glass and through watching the way faith was modeled among those she knew.

Is her faith as well grounded theologically as it could be? Probably not, based on the conversations we’ve had in my very poor Greek.

As I said in this previous post, based on my personal experience, I don’t think the Greek Orthodox Church really believes it’s necessary to explain faith in Jesus in a way that is relevant to everyday life or attractive to the lost. And that breaks my heart.

But I know my mom has what Jesus refers to as “childlike faith.” She more as much as any good reformed theologian I know would insist on never presuming on tomorrow, knowing that it is only if God wills that anything happen.

A lot has been written about the post-literate culture we’re living in now, where images and video, not the written word, is the primary way we communicate.

Naturally, there are many people who make excuses that the Bible is too hard to understand.

But for every person who uses that as a way to avoid engaging with it, I bet there’s another person who really does struggle to comprehend it.

That’s where everyday stories, such as the one’s Perry likes to use, are so powerful. During the Easter message, he used rooting for an American idol contestant as a way explain why caring about Jesus changes the way you see religion. And he used chickens tied to the handlebars of the bike on the way to a frying pan to describe the easy life on the highway to hell.

That’s the way Jesus did it, too, using word pictures and experiences that everyone could understand, such as farming, drinking, eating etc., to explain spiritual truth.

That’s why I get so mad when people accuse NewSpring and Perry of making the gospel “too easy” to receive.

It’s almost as if they would prefer for someone to have understood and grappled with the weightiest of all the theological mysteries of God before they reason, on the balance of the evidence, that Jesus is who he says he is.

During the invitation on the web campus at last week’s Easter services, we had one person in our chatroom who thought it was appropriate to talk about reprobation in the same breath as Christ dying for our sins.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who met God like that. And I don’t see many pictures in the scriptures of saving faith like that.

The Roman Centurion’s extraordinary faith was based purely on understanding Jesus power.

And Jesus’ own disciples were unschooled men who certainly didn’t fully understand his divinity or his purpose until years after they began to follow him.

I’d bet that many of us barely had the faintest understanding of what we were really signing up for when we trusted in Jesus for the first time. What we knew then and now is all spiritually discerned and a gift from God.

I love the Protestant emphasis on Bible understanding. I’m a thinker, so I love engaging with theology.

But it seems to me we should be careful about making intellectual understanding of who Jesus is and what Jesus did — except in the most basic terms (Jesus as God; Jesus as savior) — as a condition on meeting Him.

That’s what my mom taught me. God bless her.


Written by NickCharalambous

April 19, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Posted in ruminations

One Response

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  1. Great post Nick. I’m like you, I love to have the intellectual understanding, but I also try to make sure that what goes up in my head makes it down to my heart for the necessary transformation that must occur in me daily.

    Thanks for this post!


    April 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm

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