God is Grey

The mission of Goodberry is to help Churches be disciples and make disciples.  That’s a pretty large responsibility and undertaking given the vast denominational differences, needs of the church, and varying stances on several issues, but we hope to be a resource that encourages dialogue, presents both sides, and points people toward God.

I believe that one of the things that allows us to do this as an organization is the discipline of questioning.  We’ve found that there can be danger present in saying that being a Christian is black-and-white, or that the Bible always gives us definitive answers to all of the questions and debates we face.  Being a disciple of Christ often calls for radical life change and open-mindedness that allows you to both see God’s truth and experience His love.

So how do we respond when we’re confronted with a question, or have been wondering something ourselves?  Where do we turn to find truth?  It’s easy to ask others, or even just to spout off our own opinions.  Sometimes, pressing the pause button might be necessary.  It might be more God-honoring to go through a mental checklist of sorts:  Are we sure?  Have you checked?  What has time spent in prayer revealed to you?  What information does the context of that particular verse provide you with?  Are you reading the Bible with an open mind, or is your interpretation clouded with your own biases/agenda?  What about those topics that aren’t even discussed in the Bible?  How do we know what to feel or think to that extent?

The circles us back around to the discipline of questioning.  To clarify, questioning doesn’t allude to doubting faith or turning away from God.  Rather, it involves principles outlined in Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  These practices are essential to discovering truth.

This discipline is one that I have personally been living out recently.  The beautifully frustrating and liberating thing that I’ve found in the midst of the questioning is that God is sometimes grey – not black and white. Often times this leads to more questions than answers, but you see, the beauty is in the process; it’s what God intended all along.  In the midst of the process, we are changed.  We have the opportunity to stand next to God and look through His lens.  How astounding is it to realize that God isn’t just somewhere far off in the distance, but that His word is living, alive, and active?  God dwells in and among us.  When we seek Him out, we grow to be less concerned with the answers and more concerned with the heart of God.  Maybe this is what G.K. Chesterton was getting at when he said “the poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.  It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head.  And it is his head that splits.”

Perhaps it would be easier (and debatably better) if the Bible was an actual comprehensive moral code, or if God answered our prayers with undeniable words carved in immutable stone tablets.  Or, would this actually be worse?  Would eliminating the mystery eliminate part of our relational ability with God?  Would we perhaps be missing out on the beauty, creativity, and artistic nature of the divine?  Remember that Jesus spoke in metaphors.  There are some truths that can only be fully expressed in song (the entire books of Psalms, for example).  The Bible is essentially a puzzle full of parallel, paramount context and culture, and intentionally decorated with poetry.  Jesus was less of a logician and more of an artist, and I would argue that the best pieces of artwork are shaded.

Donald Miller puts it this way:  “black-and-white, either-or thinking polarizes people and stunts progressive thought.”

Maybe it’s time we set our judgments and demands aside.  Maybe it’s time to realize that polarity doesn’t exist with God, because His love (and creation) is present on all points of the spectrum and extends to every corner of the earth.  Will you join us in asking, seeking, and knocking?  Let’s read.  Reread.  Pray.  Double check.  And ultimately, rest in the shaded grey in order that God may fill our hearts.

Christian the Lion remembers

I have learned that “it is very easy to lose focus on eternal, spiritual truths when everything around us pushes us to give all our attention to our immediate, urgent, and often seemingly more interesting circumstances. But when we honor God by focusing our lives on him by serving him to the best of our ability (2 Timothy 2:15), by maintaining love and unity among ourselves (John 17:11), and by standing firm in confidence and hope in him (Hebrews 3:6), we will find that our circumstances will certainly be no less interesting…” (How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams)

And for some reason, ‘Christian the Lion’ came to mind. The image of a Lion after a long time in the wild makes his current circumstance predict him as wild and dangerous; not remembering his past owners. But yet, the outcome says otherwise. He remembers his ‘owners’ and greets them! It is definitely mind boggling.

As the quote from above, we may sometimes “forget” our relationship with our Heavenly Father and “give all our attention to our immediate, urgent and often seemingly more interesting circumstances” but maybe today is a start, a start to remind ourselves of our calling to…

  • Give Him our best (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Maintain unity among yourselves (John 17:11)
  • Offer our whole selves to Him (Romans 12:11)
  • Have firm confidence and hope in Him

Let us remember what our ‘owner’ has done for us and despite our ‘wild’ circumstances, let’s get back into focusing on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.