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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why?

I am not going to relate this blog to a specific scripture, but instead will worry a bit with the idea of living in the gray areas of our faith. The study group in which I participate had a lively discussion about why Jesus seems so often to answer the questions he is asked with another question or with a parable.

Doesn't this just cause problems, some asked. Doesn't it add a great potential for misdirection, asked another. And then the opposing view - that this approach just adds to the beautiful mystery and spirituality of our faith. I fall somewhere between the two extremes of responses.

I truly believe that Jesus answered us in parables not to be confusing but to enable and encourage us to use our brains in our faith lives. Rather than just giving cut and dried answers, God expects us to grow through mature reflection, study and wrestling with faith questions.

For me the givens are God's grace and love for all. Beyond that, I take comfort that my faith can change and grow with me. I can be wrong but move on later when I figure it out. I am assured by the grace and forgiveness of God. It is also comfortable to not be expected to be perfect. Cut and dried laws left humans in a lurch because we are incapable of living up to them. Gray area leaves room for change and learning from our errors.

A God that can fit in a box and be defined with a ruler and measures of human ability to communicate is a limited God. A God that so desires to be in relationship with us that the discussion remains open can be frustrating but is so much more. More than the parent who always says "Because I said so..." in answer to the every query.

God demands of us to work it out - and to work it out together. We muddle along, but I think that we learn so much more by the experience. And, we grow closer to one another at the same time as growing closer to God.

If instead of parables, we had been given a list, would the list have been the amazing reading that we have today in the collection of stories that is the Bible? Would it have been relevant across the years to the depth that we find in the many stories and parables Jesus shared?

So how do we live faithfully into the gray? We constantly challenge ourselves with 'why?' and, we hold one another accountable to the 'why?' And, if we ever think that we have it figured out to such a degree that I am right and you are wrong about faith - we need to take a really hard look at our answers. The biggest error of all is imagining that we have it all figured out. And it is a red flag if we are adamant more about another being wrong than the tenets we hold dear.

God is beyond our full comprehension, and I take comfort in that. But I take comfort that God is with us in scripture, through one another and through the Holy Spirit helping us maneuver in the gray of our lives. Each moment is enriched if it is valued and explored with integrity, love and grace for all.

Shalom,
Laura

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