In my last post, Daring Questions, I shared about how daring to ask even deeply disturbing questions of God, invites Him to show us the truth of His Word in our lives in a very personal way. But what about when others question us, question our faith, question the validity of what we believe in and the power of the Spirit of Truth within us, where do we go for answers?
- Our emotions? Do we allow fear, insecurity, insignificance, hurt and other negative emotions to turn us inwards and cripple us?
- Our rational senses? Do we allow what we can see right now to speak louder than what we have not yet had our eyes opened to and the Spirit has prompted us with?
- Jesus and His Word? Do we take the question asked to Jesus, asking Him to open our eyes to confirm the Truth in His Word?
John 6: 5 – 6 (NIV) ‘When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.’
Jesus “already had in mind what he was going to do” when He asked the disciples this question right before the miracle of feeding five thousand men from two fish and five loaves of bread. He did too when He allowed someone to question the validity of the Message translation Scripture the Spirit of God used to rescue me out of the suicidal pit of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder one desperate night (John 6: 35 – 40).
At first, when questioned, I turned to my emotions, feeling hurt and rejected by the question posed, then I began to question the hope God had gifted me, as I rested in the emotions spiraling out of control within me (fear, hurt, rejection, insecurity, insignificance) and as I looked at what I could see right then (a man of theological training and life wisdom versus a broken woman, new to her faith as a prodigal daughter returned home). But slowly, God led me to set aside these things and turn to His Word and His Spirit to confirm the hope He had fed me in the middle of the night.
When I dug deeply into various translations and contextual information (other Bible verses that spoke of our eternal hope and the Greek roots of words used in the original passage), I discovered that the Message version gave a much more complete and accurate picture when it spoke of us being promised wholeness in heaven. I could indeed trust the promise God had made to me through that Scripture, that the broken body of my mother, who had passed away from cancer less than a year before, that I repeatedly saw before me in frightening and distressing flashbacks, would be restored to wholeness and completeness.
And now I look back on that man and see a true shepherd and leader: he dared to challenge my theology and in so doing pressed me deeper into the Living God.
Each one of us has a theology, but as we grow into Christ, this theology becomes more and more reflective of the truth, rather than mirroring our limited and even crippling human understanding.
Before this growth, we can become entangled by idolization: either making ourselves God’s equal to justify following our own earthly sinful desires or by worshipping those we most admire or trust, especially as children with our parents.
My theology was one of a punitive, slave-driving god, who was out to hurt me and could never be satisfied with my not enough because as a child I allowed human sin to define who God the Father was for me. But then, more than twenty years later God opened the eyes of my heart to His true self : the gentle, kind and grace-filled Living God. And since then He has begun to encourage me to challenge my and others’ punitive interpretation of Scripture, a theology encouraging human “strength”, pride and outward “goodness”, rather than freeing surrender in the confession of our true selves (no matter how ugly). It is this new and increasingly truth-filled theology that is leaning me into God’s loving embrace and gifting me a life more and more free from my sin-diseased heart, as Christ is rooting more deeply within me and I in Him.
And it is this freedom that is being held out to each one of us. So let us not shirk and shrink in despair from the challenging questions, but let’s allow the Holy Spirit to take us by the hand and lead us into more and more of God’s beautiful Truth, for it is the truth that has the power to set us free.