I will be wrapping up my discussion of “my” bit of Acts pretty soon; I’ll be working on comparing and contrasting The Prodigal Son story and the story of Jacob in Genesis 27 – 36:8. I’m reading Kenneth E. Bailey’s wonderful book “Jacob and the Prodigal” and preparing to lead a 4 week class this fall for adults at my church. Whew!
In the meantime — today — here’s part of an essay I wrote for the class I am taking, back in June.
Well – theology is hard! That’s the first insight that I have gained. But I think I have figured out that, for me at least right at this point in my life, perhaps “theology” can be yet another lens to read scripture or “read” church with. In the previous unit, “forgiveness” became such a lens – everything from scripture to tv shows had (still has) something to say about forgiveness. And the lens we use to see the world will transform the world.
So the lens of theology seems to be about theories – all overlapping and non-exclusive – about what exactly Jesus did for us. He healed the brokenness between God and humans; He freed us from sins; He heals us personally; He freed humans from death; He paid the price for our sin; He earned us God’s forgiveness; He restored order to the world. He healed the breach between humans. He fills us and the world with love. He has turned us around from worldly values of power, to true abundance and grace. Who is Jesus? How does the triune Godhead “work”? What is the role of the rites of the church? To some extent all these theories are just words, yes? But it turns out that a surprisingly concrete way that this theology way of thinking has affected me is with music. I love Christian music, I listen to it all the time, I sing along in the car. Now I can hear Chris Tomlin in “Waterfall” sing
“…your love is like a waterfall, running wild and free; your love is like a waterfall, raining down on me” – now I can “see” baptism in this song, I hear that God brings life to our dry desert roots. “Dancing in the rain” indeed! I just loved this song before. Now it is even richer.
Chris Tomlin again: “At the Cross” – “At the cross, at the cross… When your love ran red, and my sin washed white, I hold onto you… Jesus.” This is more than forgiveness of sins, it is a beautiful way of putting the price paid for justice, the love that was the motivation, not just some strange deal.
“Drops in the Ocean” by Hawk Nelson is my current favorite. “I am for you, I’m not against you. If you want to know how far love can go, deep and wide, look at my hands, look at my side. Can you count the times of day you are forgiven, more than the drops in the ocean.” Forgiveness again. Love as the motivation again. A sense of awe for this amazing gift and freedom – for the amount of love it took to offer all of us such sweeping forgiveness and continuing forgiveness. And the price paid – the pierced and bloody hands and side – the price paid is not neglected.
Michael W. Smith’s magnificent “You Won’t Let Go”: as the title says, we don’t need to be afraid, he keeps us close, he lights the way, he is an anchor for our soul – even if we’re battered around. No matter how frail I am, or if my mustard seed of faith fails, He is faithful, and nothing can separate me from His love. What a joyous, marvelous song/prayer/praise this is. This is perhaps speaking to the question of Who God is rather than what it is Jesus/God has done for us. But knowing that He’s got me in all my mess, that He’s a faithful anchor is very reassuring.
From Kari Jobe’s song “Steady My Heart” – “I’m not going to worry, I know you got me, right inside the palm of your hand, each and every moment just as you plan…. Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart.” God in the richness of the three will steady my heart. He’ll anchor my soul. He’ll wash my sins white. He’ll more than resurrect me, he’ll be with me here and now, no matter what.