My question of the day is, did Jesus intend to start a church? And were he to tap us on the shoulder today, with a word of advice about how we are doing as the church in the world, what would he say? His “one last thing before I go” in the story of his ascension had nothing to do with institutionalizing his life. He did not say, “Be sure to boil everything I am, everything I taught you, and everything I ever did, down to a few basic facts. And then do everything that you can to get people all over the world to believe these few basic facts.”
No, he just said, “You will be my witnesses.” Well, first of all, and very importantly, he said that we can’t ever really know what God has in mind for the restoration of the world. Then he said that we will be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Then he said, “You will be my witnesses” in your town, in your country, and all over the world. So pretty much the famous last words of Jesus were, You don’t know everything, so just tell people about me, as many people as you can. (That’s my own paraphrase, of course.)
You don’t know everything, so just stick with what you know. That’s pretty good advice, in my book. Funny how that line didn’t make the Nicene Creed. How much different would the church be today if the Council of Nicaea had been able to add one little line before they began their creed: “We don’t know everything for sure, but …”? How much more conversation can you have with another person when you both assume an attitude of humility about the limited nature of your knowledge? And why is it sometimes so hard for us to say "I don't know"?
It reminds me of the Linda Ronstadt song that says, “Don’t know much, but I know I love you. That may be all I need to know.” The song ends with the line, “That may be all there is to know.”
Witnesses are told in court to provide the information they know – testify to what they have seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled. Hearsay is not allowed. Speculation is frowned upon. Witnesses are not allowed to supply personal opinion. Just tell what you know. Stick to what you know. That may be a good metaphor for providing testimony about Jesus, too. Don't stray off into your own prejudices, fears, and grudges. Just talk about Jesus.
I am not advocating the suppression of curiosity. By no means! I believe that the hunger for knowledge is a gift of God given to humanity, and good stewardship of that gift means that we ought to embrace it and put it to good use. It's funny how often learning something new illuminates just how much more there is to learn. Ironically, acknowledgement of the limited nature of our knowledge is a part of what compels us to know more and more. But we need to cultivate a healthy understanding that any amount of knowledge we accumulate over our lifetime is a mere flicker when considered alongside the vastness of God. Archimedes' "Eureka!" moment is still just a glimpse through a glass darkly.
Just before he ascended, Jesus said something like, You don’t know everything, so just stick with what you know. And the Holy Spirit will help you figure all the rest out.
I don’t know for sure if certain people are going to burn in hell or float up into heaven when they die, but I do know that God loves them. That may be all I need to know. That may be all there is to know.
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