Sunday, August 30, 2015

Today's Sermon

I went to visit my previous pastor, now at an interim position down in North Easton, MA. With Jonah and Nineveh as the context, he focused on What question is God asking you? 

Simple but alarming.  Newer churches encourage visitors to bring their questions, and I think the many Bible studies and video series I have attended over the years have treated bringing one's questions to God as standard fare.  I don't think anyone has ever asked me to contemplate what question God is asking me.

He frequently asks questions, right from the start: Where are you?  Why have you done this?  Where is your brother Abel? When Jesus arrives, he shows the family style. Who do you say that I am?  Where is your husband?

I haven't the faintest idea what question God is asking me.  I suspect I'd better think about it.


james said...

Good question.

I don't know what He's asking me, though I suspect the question would start with "Have you not read ...?"

Texan99 said...

I always worry that it's something like "what have you been doing with the time I've given you?"

Brad said...

He's asking me, "Now that AVI got your attention maybe you will listen to my question."

Grim said...

I've been thinking about this post for a while. It's so striking that God asks questions. We usually believe that he knows all the answers -- Gersonides and a few similar theologians to the side (although this is exactly the kind of question Gersonides might expect him to ask, or rather to send an angel to ask). Yet the Bible presents these questions at least sometimes as questions where the answer is not known: why are you wearing clothes in the garden? Where is your brother?

There's a Medieval philosophical account that Gersonides is coming out of that wonders if God can even known particular facts at all, or if divine knowledge is of universals. Avicenna thought that God knew himself, and the universe was sort of striving to imitate him as beings he didn't realize he was producing attempted to emulate his perfection as well as they were able by putting things in order. (He was getting this from a combination of Aristotle and a work of Plotinus' that he was told was Aristotle's theology). Aquinas thought that God knew all the particulars, because only divine attention could hold them in being. Gersonides thought he knew the universals, but not the particulars, because the particulars aren't perfect enough for the mind of God -- too much unfulfilled potential in them.

What would God ask you? What would he want to know about you that he doesn't know already? Or does he only ask because he wants to call your attention to the important thing you're failing to notice? If so, God has a philosopher's pedagogy. At least sometimes.

Texan99 said...

I'd guess He's challenging us to confront the answer, and not so much hoping we'll enlighten Him with information He lacks.

I usually find very comforting the remark in Corinthians about knowing as even now we are known. I know that when I deserve a question like "Where is your brother?" I may wish I were a little less known (I ran to the rock, please hide me). But I know that whatever else is wrong, the problem isn't going that God Doesn't Understand Me.

I've just had the oddest experience. It abruptly occurred to me earlier today that there's something I badly want to do for my mother-in-law, someone whose company I don't normally enjoy that much. It's something she unexpectedly really wants to do with me, though we don't hang out normally. She guessed I wouldn't want to bother, and normally that would have been a good guess. For some reason, it came through loud and clear that she would want it, though she ordinarily is all but incapable of clearly owning up to a wish. It came to me that to want to do something from the bottom of your heart that also has the strong approval of your conscience is the height of happiness. Part of the happiness is knowing that, at least in that instant and that context, you have nothing to fear from God's question.

Between that and feeling that I've finally found a way to quit quarreling with Grim, I'm feeling very happy.

Ann Kellett said...

Who do you say that I am?

LisaB said...

Do you love me?
John 21:16

Pogo: I never said I was a diplomat said...

Where did I leave My keys?

james said...

"When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city ?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?

Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger.
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions."
T.S. Eliot

Charles Harrell said...

I'm afraid the question would be: "Why in My Name would you do something like that?" Then I would have to give the old military response: " No excuse, Sir, no excuse!"