Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Jan. 31 Sermon: An Answer to our Inadequacies

Jeremiah and 1 Corinthians

Story about not being fully understood. Razorback to the shower.

I am fully understood by God. Jeremiah: I am known even in the womb. We can’t know fully as God knows in this life. Perhaps this is a blessing.

……..I’ve heard it said that education, (that instruction in knowledge and understanding) is like kindling a flame, not like filling a vessel. This is true—and the fire that is stoked can either be the pure light of wisdom and reason, or it can be the destructive glow of the atom bomb. Knowledge and Understanding can be corrupted……..

God does give us the ability to love fully though.

Jeremiah feels inadequate. He says he is just a boy. Perhaps he doesn’t feel like he knows enough. God tells him, “don’t say ‘I’m just a boy.’ I’ll put my words in your mouth.

……….If we’re willing to love God and we communicate our love of God by trusting him fully, we will be adequate……….

Matthew gives us a picture of Jesus making a similar point when he declares: "Not every one who says, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my father who is in heaven" (7:21) and continues by pointing out that in the end people will report their wonderful deeds, miracles, prophecy and the like, only to be told they have no real relationship with Jesus at all. Similarly in the parable of the sheep and the goats, Matthew reports that the sheep are those who exercised compassion in their lives (25:31-48). That is ultimately what counts.

Paul puts the other gifts in their place in the Cor. Chapter. Everthing is hollow and pointless without love. Love is how we align ourselves with the will of God. Epperly, “To acknowledge that we “prophesy in part” is the first step in honest spiritual leadership and the primary antidote to religious idolatry, intolerance, and fanaticism.

Socrates said, “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”

Tillich: Shaking of the Foundations “And now let us consider our existence, and the knowledge that we possess. Paul says that all our present knowledge is like the perception of things in a mirror, that it therefore concerns enigmas and riddles. This is only another way of expressing the fragmentary character of our knowledge. For fragments out of the context of the whole are only riddles to us. We may surmise the nature of the whole; we may approach the whole indirectly; but we do not see the whole itself; we do not grasp it directly face to face. A little light and much darkness; a few fragments and never the whole; many problems and never a solution; only reflections in the mirrors of our souls, without the source of truth itself: that is the situation of our knowledge.”

Story of mice and elephant.

Our knowledge of others is incomplete. We can’t substantiate it. I can’t go into your head and see life as you see it. There’s a great, strange movie called “Being John Malkovich” that taps into this question. Cameron Diaz and John Cusack find a strange small door in his office building, and it leads into the body of John Malkovich. They walk around looking out through his eyes, but they still retain their own selves, and so they keep getting flushed out and landing in a ditch on the New Jersey turnpike.

Have you ever thought about this before? What does green look like to the person sitting next to you? Even if our brains all have a common interpretation for the color green, we have different experiences tied up in the color which flood our minds when we see that color too. Those experiences are unique.

And so, we see the tip of the iceberg as to why “knowledge is incomplete, and why we cannot possibly know the other. As Epperly says, the ultimate Other is God, who we believe experiences His entire Creation. Every life, every pulsing star, everything!

This is why Paul says we see like this image you see on your bulletin cover. We see as though through a foggy mirror. We can make out the shape of God, perhaps. We know certain things about God.
One thing we can be sure of, because God gives us this gift of being able to fully comprehend God’s love toward us and toward His Creation, is that God’s Love is somehow united with the identity of God.

Though our knowledge and understanding fall short of comprehending God—we can comprehend God when we become vessels of his Love. We can love completely as we are completely loved. We can reciprocate in this way only. And it is by this path only because any other path leads perilously close to self-idolatry and self-worship.

The time is coming when faith will be replaced by knowledge, and when hope will find its realization. But in the new age love will not be superseded, for God is love.

This is why we believe that faith, which is best expressed by love, can have room for doubts and intellectual hesitation. Article in Christian Century, “When author Madeleine L’Engle was asked, “Do you believe in God without any doubts?” she replied, I believe in God with all my doubts.” We see in a mirror dimly, but what we see is important. We have treasures in our congregational traditions and doctrinal understandings, but they are mediated through earthen vessels.

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