I know it’s cliché but one of the things I learned in grad school is the more I study and strive for knowledge, the more I realize that I don’t know anything at all. I remember reading my first systematic theology volume. The question that the first few hundred pages tackled was whether or not we could even know God. The chapter helped me realize that even though there is countless scholarly work done on the person of Jesus and God there really still is a mystery to it all that needs to be embraced.
For the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on Harold Camping and the Family Radio folks who claimed that they knew when the church would be raptured and judgment day would happen. In fact they claimed that, “The Bible guarantees it.” The one verse that everyone spouted off to refute Camping is when Jesus said not even the day or hour is known. While I agree with using this verse in this context my mind kept going back to the garden, back to the beginning. These are the verses I kept thinking about in relation to Camping and his followers.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
I think one of the greatest temptations we face is to try and figure God out. Isn’t that part of the reason Eve ate the fruit? In one sense God is revealed in Jesus and in scripture, and we can get to know Jesus well through a relationship with him and participation in his narrative. But in the other sense, when we begin to view God as a mathematical equation, something that can be figured out, I think we try to demystify or tame God, which is actually the bigger sin. I’d love to use this latest dooms day prediction to remind myself and the body of Christ is that God is God and we’re not.
Striving for knowledge has been one of the greatest pursuits in my life. However, we must always keep the Apostle Paul’s thoughts in mind, “But now that you know God – or rather are known by God-“ Paul corrects himself mid sentence and reminds us that we can’t fully know God but we are fully know to Him. We can see God revealed in Jesus but there is a level of mystery in Christ that we simply need to embrace. This is a difficult challenge in a data obsessed world. It’s hard to let Jesus be Jesus when you shove him in an equation and tell him to come back on a certain day.