My cat and I adore each other. I carry her around on my shoulder. She has me all figured out. She knows if she scratches her post she gets a treat. If she rolls over on her back, I rub her tummy. But she has no idea what I am writing about. She certainly doesn’t know what I do all day. Even though she tries, her singing and playing guitar leave a lot to be desired. My relationship with God is a lot like that. His realty is so much beyond mine that I can only understand a small amount and attempt to show my affection for Him through worship and obedience.
When I was about 10 years old, a Sunday School teacher sat me down and went through God’s “Plan of Salvation.” I don’t remember the exact details, but it was something like: 1. God has a plan for my life; 2. All have sinned; 3. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life; 4. If you believe in your heart and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved.
This seemed pretty straight-forward and I had no trouble understanding that all had sinned. The problem was that if it was that clear, why wasn’t this in the first four verses of Genesis, or the last four verses of Revelations. Why didn’t Jesus spell this out in the Sermon and the Mount, or at least, Luke should have highlighted it with bullet points. Why do we have to look through pages of scripture and pull out selected verses to find truths that should be so clear. Furthermore, a person could say just about anything using this technique.
Fifty years later, I am very familiar with tracts such as “The Four Spiritual Laws” and “Steps to Peace With God.” These booklets easily explain eternal truths in 10 pages including illustrations, but they open up tons of questions. Questions like, how about the person who has never heard about Jesus? Or what about all the wonderful people in churches who suffer from nothing worse than bad theology?
The problem is that this simplification is like saying that a sandwich is a piece of dead animal between two slices of bread. It is true, but there is more to know. Anyone who has ever talked to a baker about bread or a barbeque expert about sauces and meats knows that a sandwich is never just a sandwich. As I enjoy my PB&J or a veggie-burger, I realize that even my definition of a sandwich is not exactly right.
It is tempting to put God in a box and say we have Him figured out. But God is much bigger than we think or can know. His ways are beyond our widest understanding. Fortunately, we don’t have to understand God’s whole plan. It is not our place to judge or condemn others, but God’s. Our job is to respond to what we DO know - live our lives in such a way that we bring glory to Him.