And the more important something is to us, the more surety we need to have about it.
And what do most people in the world count as among those things about which they need the most certainty? That's easy: Themselves.
In order to feel as secure as possible about themselves, people need to have all the mental and emotional certainty they can possibly muster about these three things:
1. The Big Picture. God, no God, which God, etc. Everybody keeps and maintains within them a Big Picture paradigm they're sure is true.
2. Their relationships with others. We are nothing if not intensely social, one way or another.
3. What's going to happen to them when they die.
Those are life's constant Big Three. They boil down to: What was going on before I got here (the God question), what is happening while I'm here (the people question), and what will happen to me when I'm no longer here at all?
Past, present, and future, baby. No one goes through life without structuring their relationship to those three things.
And what single thing supplies complete answers to all three of those concerns? Religion. A person who believes in a religion automatically has comprehensive answers to virtually all three of the biggest areas of their concerns.
Which is why 95% of people on the planet cleave to one religion or another. (The very definite belief system of atheism is in effect also a religion---but for now we'll let that go.) Religion comforts people, in every big and important way they need comforting.
What do we Christians say? That we're saved! And that's exactly what we mean: that we've been saved from fear, that Jesus was God who came to earth for the singular purpose of making sure we got that we don't have to live with fear and doubt about who God is, how we're supposed to live, and what will happen to us after we die.
What a beautiful, beautiful thing that is.
Except here's where things get interesting. Because, saved or not, what happens is that we take our persistent, instinctive drive to be absolutely, 100% certain about everything, and we superimpose it over our view of God.
We must be certain about God---or everything falls apart for us.
We don't really want a God who is mysterious, because there's no way to be perfectly sure about something mysterious---much less something whose very nature is mysterious. There's just no way that can work for us. Never has. Never will.
We don't think we know who God is. We know we know who God is.
And that's fine and true: we do know who God is. But I do think it's terribly important, every once in a while, that we remember to stop to and at least acknowledge that God always has been, and will always remain, a mystery---that we don't know everything about God; that we can't know everything about God; that we shouldn't know everything about God; that God is and must remain for us an unfathomable reality we could no sooner hold in our minds than we can flap our arms and fly.
We are rightfully proud to be God's representative on earth. Yet we know pride to be one of the Devil's strongest tools against us.
We must be strong, forthright leaders. Yet we must be humble, broken followers.
We must loath those who reduce our religion to rules---we want relationship, not religion! Yet we must systematize our faith, so that we can effectively practice it, study it, and teach it to the world.
Nature is the ultimate expression of God's glorious handiwork. Yet the earth is God's gift to mankind to use in whatever way he thinks best.
We should delight in our sexual relationship with our spouse. Yet sex is Satan's weapon of choice against us.
We must evangelize to others. Yet people are saved by God's grace, and God's grace alone.
God has a plan and a purpose for our life. Yet God is self-sufficient; nothing can be added or taken from him.
Heaven is ours. Yet we still await God's judgment of us.
Jesus was fully human. Yet he was absolutely sinless.
God is one. Yet God is three.
See? Mysteries all!
And those are just ones we know about.
It's not that we're helpless to understand or intuit the greater truths behind these sorts of dichotomies. It's just that on the face of it, our honest faith demands that we loosen up some of that which keeps us so sure we understand the entirely of God's nature and will. We don't understand the entirely of God's nature and will. We can't understand that. We will never understand that.
And thank God for that! Who wants a God they can fully comprehend? Man. If we think church is boring now... .
I think we should consider modifying our worship services. I think that one Sunday a month, everyone in church---including and especially our pastors---should come into the pews, take a seat, and, for the duration of the time the service usually lasts, remain perfectly quiet.
I cannot imagine any church service more pleasing to God.
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