Bible lesson: Direction, The Light of the World
Written: April 9, 2017
Q: Where do you get your best ideas?
My best ideas come while I’m in the shower and when I’m driving. One reason is that I have fewer distractions. I’m doing something that my mind can autopilot and my mind drifts back into solving some of the problems I am dealing with that day. Usually, those are my best ideas and clearest thinking times.
Jesus’ direction for us is only clear when distractions are removed.
Q: We could all easily list our distractions, right?
Imagine we built one of those baby crib mobiles, but we made it adult-sized and instead of giraffes and eagles and kittens on our baby-size mobiles, we put the Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, football and basketball symbols on our adult-sized mobile. We wouldn’t put a NASCAR one on there because we all agree that racing is only good and God approves of racing.
So our adult-size mobile has all of these sparkly, interesting things to keep us occupied while we’re basically just lying there consuming.
That’s not a bad metaphor, right?
Babies are entertained by the giraffes on their mobiles, but they aren’t becoming experts on them, they aren’t becoming biologists or anything, not right then.
When we’re watching our version of the mobiles, we’re not really becoming anything either.
Not really, we’re being entertained and that’s mostly harmless, except that we’re not actively seeking when we’re distracted, we’re content and complacent.
Jesus provides good direction for us – always, but we notice it – sometimes.
So the first part of finding His direction is to set aside more time to listen and watch and read and think.
Q: Have you ever had a situation where you had a choice to make and it was really a tough decision?
We all want choices. We’d love to have multiple job offers, multiple college offers – we want choices for everything. But when you have to choose, sometimes it is hard. We can’t see around the corners ahead. The choices might look equally good right now, but a few corners down the road and we might discover one was really the wrong choice.
I have a saying for the team that I manage. “Ambiguity is our enemy.” We have dozens of active projects but no priorities to sort them out, so we have to decide. Whichever one you pick, there are going to be dozens of people who care about the others that disagree. We would love it if we had priorities so we could march forward with firm commitment.
Ambiguity is an enemy. We’re usually the most at peace and content when we feel confident in the direction we’re heading.
There’s only one real plan for the world that takes everything into account – all the corners, all the complexity, the confusion. That’s God’s plan and Jesus says that He is the light for it.
We don’t need to fumble around in the dark, making mistakes, stepping on the cat. For us – the Christians, the followers of the light, we can move forward with deliberation. When we’re really tuned in, life seems to almost be on a railroad track where we know the next stop ahead and don’t need to worry about getting there.
Jesus’ clarity makes Him the best debater who ever lived. When Dr. Ben Carson was running for President, I loved to hear him debating people. Maybe I made this up or maybe I heard it somewhere but there was a comment that said, “The bad thing about debating Ben Carson is that he’s a genius and you’re not.”
Maybe we should be more reflective than I am. When I read the parts of the Bible where Jesus debates the Pharisees, or government officials or religious-minded people and He says something that just completely wins the argument and would make it impossible to make any kind of rebuttal unless you’re just stubbornly stuck to your position – I love those moments.
Like we love watching someone run down the court and slamming a dunk. That’s what Jesus does here, oh yeah Pharisees, what do you think of this? Boom.
In verse 17 He pulls out their own law that required two witnesses. He doesn’t argue with their law, He accepts it as the game board for the discussion. Ok, those are the out-of-bounds lines and that’s the goalpost, let’s play.
And then, He basically says I’m one witness and God is the other one.
I love to imagine the consternation of the Pharisees with Jesus. When all around us we see smug and condescending atheists that spend so much effort fighting someone they say doesn’t exist. I think about the clarity of Jesus.
We know that was one of the most amazing aspects of Jesus’ character.
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
I really love the way Jesus uses both reasoning and faith to make his point.
The reasoning part was the law they accepted, at least two witnesses are needed to prove something.
The faith part was when Jesus claimed God as His father and then named God as His second witness.
“Then they asked Him, ‘Where is Your Father?'” “You know neither Me nor My Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew Me, you would also know My Father.”
I imagine them asking that in a sarcastic, snarky way like the YouTube atheists. “Where is he then?” and Jesus pointing out the obvious, if you knew me we wouldn’t be having this debate.
I read a book years ago called “The Miracle of Freedom: The 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World”. It made the point that reason, or science, was not the enemy of Christian faith. It said that unlike other religions, the Bible provided reasoned arguments and didn’t just rely on blind faith, or repetitive behaviors. People could listen to the Bible and try to reason through it with their own judgment. The book suggests that scientific thought actually arose from that early reasoning out of the Bible.
It’s only the secular folks today that claim science and faith are enemies. I think they are co-dependent.
Imagine these two rods are reason, knowledge, science.
We want to our knowledge to be greater, but we can’t really put it together because there are these gaps.
What kicked off the big bang? Why?
How are we to believe the speed of light is a limit, and then to accept the theory that all matter in the universe blew from the center out to its current location in not even a second?
How does our mind, that looks like a cauliflower mold made of pudding, hold every experience and generate every thought we’ve had?
Science has gaps.
Likewise, here’s our faith.
Every one of us has reasons we believe. If we were to list the facts that each of us sees as proof of God and proof of Jesus, there would be some overlap probably, but there would also be proofs that were unique. Something that you’ve seen that you feel proves God’s direction that maybe when you share it with someone else doesn’t strike them in the same way, and vice versa.
It might be that looking at entropy as I mentioned last week that is your proof.
Might be some observation about the natural world, or the inherent goodness in some person, or the miracle of birth.
Christians put reason and faith together. It’s such a natural fit, that we do it almost without even being aware of it.
Our beliefs, our understanding of the world is our own unique combination of reason and faith. I believe that’s how God intended. I know that I’m much more happy and at peace and confident in the direction of my life than people who refuse even to admit their reason-only model has gaps.
I’m also glad that the God we believe in wants us to use our own judgment and try to fit things together rather than just telling us to blindly trust him.
Q: Questions, These are question points in the lesson where I will wait on the class to respond.
RQ: Rhetorical Questions, These are questions without a pause for responses.