Does anyone remember walking around childhood confused what adults were talking about? We learned language in very “black and white” terms. Most children serve to be a laugh riot whenever they misunderstand a phrase or term that most of us take for granted. They might think a group of elderly people are going to parade through their school instead of the graduating high school students during the “Senior March”. I remember my father saying we needed to stop ahead, to which I replied “A head of what?” “Drop me a line” had me wonder “What kind of line?” Kids aren’t even safe in church. “Give your heart to Jesus.” “Your sins are washed away.” “On fire for God.” The literal meaning is often the cause for losing what is meant. It makes Robert McCloskey’s famous quote “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant” more clear.
One has to wonder if this was Jesus’ experience when he was attempting to encourage his disciples in John 14:1-14. He attempts to prepare the disciples for his pending departure from them, speaking of His heavenly home and all the disciples hear is “Jesus is going on a trip and we don’t know what the address is.” At every turn, Jesus tries to strengthen them in faith and life and at every turn, the disciples ask “Left or right?” While meant to be funny, there is a story of the Disciples’ responses when at the Sermon on the Mount, asking “Do we have to write this down?”, “Will this be on the test?”, and “What does this have to do with real life?” among others. The disciples seemed to be the opposite of being “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”.
One of the greatest truths I learned early on in my own faith is that, while the world is looking for a human conqueror in a messiah, God sent His Son to redeem our spirits, not our bodies, institutions and possessions. When we look at Jesus as both Fully God and Fully Human, rather than just a good guy with some interesting thoughts or truths, His words take on the power of Heaven and The Truth is more than just subjective options for living. Everything Jesus teaches, encourages, admonishes, and proclaims takes on the meaning of being:
- The Way to Heaven, away from sin, through life.
- The Truth that brings lies to light, experience to profit us, and the answers we need to live instead of just surviving.
- The Life we can have in spite of our circumstances, we want others to experience, and the Eternity we never have to fear.
Do I live my life without bounds but expect God to define everything for me?
Do I miss what Jesus means for me to hear because I am trying to interpret?
Do I try to forge my path instead of taking the path God has set before me?