Yesterday I posted my fifth installment (of what might be 100, I don’t know), called “Differences between Jesus and Me.” (or…is that “I”)?
In my new “plan to become more like Jesus” I thought I’d start with the things I’m obviously missing. Areas where he seems to be one way, and I another. Whenever I find myself NOT doing what Jesus did, or NOT thinking the way he thought, or NOT saying things the way he did, or NOT treating people the way he treated them – I realize I should change.
So…yesterday I posted (on FB) this: “Jesus is okay with, even encourages, mystery – whereas I like my facts straight and without twists.” Something like that. Interestingly several reacted and a couple emailed me and sent me private messages asking what I meant by Jesus “encouraging mystery.” This happens to me all the time when I speak publicly – I make this point and people react. Confused. How could this be they say? Wasn’t Jesus clear?
Here are my thoughts on whether he was “clear” or “mysterious.”
1. Let’s at least agree that the Western (Greek and Enlightenment) way of thinking has primarily been based on the scientific model of verification of facts. It’s not right or wrong, but Easterners think and process information differently. A plus B does not necessarily equal C. It might be “Orange.” As much as we want Jesus to be from the West and to think and act like us – he wasn’t and he didn’t.
2. The scripture says that Jesus spoke in parables so they “would NOT understand.” Parables – his main teaching method – were not to diffuse mystery, but rather to expose wrong thinking so their hearts might be revealed.
Have you ever wondered about John chapter 6 where Jesus tells them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they want any part of him? When “many of the disciples left” he simply turned to the others and said “do you want to go as well?” That tough and extremely mysterious teaching got Peter and the ones who stayed to admit their desperation (in the midst of their confusion) and their need for Jesus – so they replied (my loose interpretation) “We have NO idea what you’re talking about – but we trust in YOU and where else could we go anyway, we’ve already given everything up to follow you – basically, we’re stuck with you.” And that’s what Jesus wanted! Not an explanation of the theology of communion!
3. Jesus would heal someone and tell them not to tell anyone. Jesus would be asked a question and not answer. Jesus never laid out the plan clearly to his followers. He didn’t explain the cross before it happened. He would say mysterious things like “…Jonah was in the belly of the fish, so shall the Son of Man be….” Or he said “the temple will be torn down and rebuilt.” They clearly had no idea what he was saying and he didn’t explain. Consequently, they all freaked out and ran away at the cross because they did NOT understand (except John who, interestingly, had been the most intimately close to Jesus so may have grasped something deeper – or perhaps he just stayed out of loyal friendship and commitment to Jesus’ mother).
So I believe that Jesus not only accepted mystery, he encouraged it – why? Because he wanted to, and wants to, delve into the deepest places of our heart’s motivations. When we have all the facts, we can make a clear factual decision about something. But when we’re stuck making our decision relationally, it doesn’t make the facts irrelevant, it just makes them less important than the relationship.
If Chris hollers out from the kitchen “Hey Carl, come here for a second.” I can do one of two things. I can get up and go. Or…I can yell back, “Why?” Which honors her more?