Tonight is the “Hot Topics” class in our “Questions for God” Bible Study. That’s the Wednesday evening course that’s based on questions submitted by my congregation. It’s been a well-attended, fun to teach course. The best part is that I’ve heard from many participants that it’s gotten them more into their Bibles.
Tonight we’re going to cover questions folks submitted about homosexuality, abortion, racism, in-vitro fertilization, and so on.
Come to think of it, [cough cough] I think I might be coming down with something. I may not be able to make it tonight . . .
I’m kidding, of course. If Christians can’t discuss how their faith impacts the “hot issues” that are realities in our world, then our faith is pretty useless. It’s in these discussions that the Holy Spirit really bursts onto the scene. As we chew on the Bible and share our experiences, the Spirit works in and through those conversations to lead us toward Truth.
On the journey to that big-T Truth, we learn to live together despite our sometimes divergent ideas about what Truth might be.
It is the disagreement that is scary for some folks. If I’m totally honest, sometimes it’s scary for me as a pastor. My life would be a lot easier if everyone came to the same conclusions about every issue; if everyone would come to my conclusions. That might seem egotistical but it’s actually very altruistic – I am willing to share my conclusions with anyone. . . anyone who wants to be right.
Okay, I’m kidding again. Maybe when we get to heaven we’ll all be on the same page. But in this life, Truth is always going to be filtered through our inherent sinfulness. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, but we don’t always want to listen. Sometimes it’s too painful to listen. Other times the voice of the Holy Spirit gets drowned out by other stuff. We are expert at self-delusion, at self-justification, and at just plain being stubborn.
That’s why HUMILITY is vital to our growth in faith and knowledge.
I heard someone in seminary say that the most widely heard sound on the Last Day when all Truth is revealed will be . . . “Ohhhhh.” In other words, “Oh, that’s what You meant!”
God is infinite. We will never totally understand God. Not in this life – and maybe not in eternity, either. (C. S. Lewis wrote somewhere that we will keep learning in eternity because there will always be more to learn about God. I hope he’s right.)
Systematic Theology was the very first graduate religion course I took. On the first day, the professor said, “We’re going to look at how Christians have tried to understand God throughout history. God probably sits in heaven laughing at our great intellectual attempts to explain Him. But maybe we can learn something.”
As we gather tonight to talk about Hot Topics, I hope we can all (me included; perhaps me especially) learn something. I hope we will be guided by the Spirit toward what God wants us to know and to do. I especially hope we will be united by the Spirit so that we can keep loving each other in spite of our differences, and agree finally that we are all saved by the Grace of God not by our perfect understanding of religion.