I am told, that Jesus only directly answers 3 of the 183 questions that he himself is asked in the four Gospels! This is totally surprising to me who has grown up assuming that the very job description of religion is to give people answers and to resolve people’s dilemmas. Apparently this is not Jesus’ understanding of the function of religion because he operates very differently.
Jesus’ questions are to re-position you, make you own your unconscious biases, break you out of your dualistic mind, challenge your image of God or the world, and present new creative and redemptive possibilities. He himself does not usually wait for or expect specific answers. He hopes to tweak, or ignite a person’s imagination.
Reading the gospels moves you into this profound liminal space. Some people call it the ” slippery slope “, but maybe it is more circumventing obstacles around struggling with truth and suddenly loosing your footing. In reading the gospels you come to the reality what once made sense no longer does. What caused the fall might have been that for years, and years there was only one way to look at something. But, in your pursuit for something deeper you started looking at the obstacle from different angles…and you slipped.
And you thought, Sh……..it! now I’ve done it, I’ve lost my faith. All the questions like lightning begin to strike you from all angles. How long will this free fall last ? Will I land on anything solid?
Christianity for years has been about ” orthodoxy “, right belief. You read the gospels and you can’t miss the only thing Jesus was orthodox about was living. It wasn’t really ” what ” to believe it was ” how ” to believe. And today more and more people don’t really care about ” what ” you need to believe…they want to know how. After we let go of the ” what “, we are left with the ” how.” We grab the profound mysterious ” how ” and throw it into the midst of life. There its, ” how do I believe?” How did I ever believe that? ” How does believing this change the world around me?
It is the ” how ” of belief, that is more about ” orthopraxy ” the right practice of belief…Or simply how do I live like Jesus, and believe in the things he believed in. “How”, is a question that is far more profound and far more life giving than ” what .” ” How “, implies a sense of purpose and pushes us into a deeper engagement with the world in which we live. Diana Butler Bass says, ” What is a conventional religious question, one of dogma and doctrine; how is an emerging spiritual question, one of experience and connection.” How is the struggle of a new way to belief.
You read the gospels and you simply see, it becomes blindingly clear Jesus doesn’t fight for anyone to believe anything. All through the gospels it is Jesus telling profound redemptive stories, acting out the drama of abundant living in the midst of a broken world. Jesus simply fights for us to ” live ” differently as ” on earth as in heaven.” It is simply about living a radical scandalous redemptive love to the point of self sacrifice.
It became apparent for me when Jesus is arrested by the Roman soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane, when Peter grabs the soldiers sword and cuts his ear off. Jesus tells Peter to put down the sword…and replaces and heals the soldiers ear. We will never convince the world to believe in Jesus by defending, and fighting about right belief. We will convince the world of Jesus when we are willing to put down our swords, and willing to sacrifice our lives…for Love.
I “NO” longer care or focus on what I believe…I only care about how I believe…how that might change my neighborhood, and world…and how it will reveal Jesus and his kingdom.