Like many things, being a follower of Christ is multi-layered. There is a truly simplistic aspect to our faith, the kind of pure, guileless, and uncomplicated stuff that children’s stories are made of. There was a King whose kids were in trouble, the King’s eldest Son, the Prince, left the castle to go rescue all of the children and bring them back to the castle to feast and laugh forever. This is true, but this isn’t all.
There is a side to Christianity that is intensely complex. There is no book in history that has been pawed at, combed over, dug into, and attacked as vigorously as the Bible. There is no worldview or mindset that has been scrutinized, both by adherents and opponents, as intensely as Christianity. And this is for good reason. Broad and deep topics like substitutionary atonement, the Incarnation, and orthodox eschatology are not things that can be studied with any kind of honest assessment in an hour. They take thought, prayer, meditation, research, and the help of the Spirit of God.
One of the books I’m currently reading is a collection of essays and letters written by Albert Einstein called, The World As I See It. It’s proving to be a very interesting read, and I came across this a couple of days ago:
IN HIS BIOGRAPHY OF Einstein Mr. H. Gordon Garbedian relates that an American newspaper man asked the great physicist for a definition of his theory of relativity in one sentence. Einstein replied that it would take him three days to give a short definition of relativity
Now, the two main ideas in Einstein’s work on relativity have to do with time and gravity (obviously these are broad generalizations and neither does the theory justice nor explains it with any clarity). To read even summaries of his work is far beyond anything that I can understand, however I live everyday with a fairly solid grasp of time and gravity. I functionally exist in a world that demands a certain level of mastery in these two areas. If I have no concept, nor care, for time then I will soon lose my job due to excessive tardiness and missed appointments. If I have no concept of gravity then the list of problems becomes nearly endless.
This is my point: we must strive to move on two levels as Christians. We must embrace the functional, day-to-day reality of life in Christ. Faith propels this aspect. Certain things we do simply because the Bible instructs us to do so, not necessarily because we completely understand every eternal implication of our obedience. But then there is another level that must not be ignored. To say that we are not responsible for engaging the deeper things of God, the truths that must be mined, is to ignore the pervasive command of the New Testament for believers to work toward maturity in there spiritual walk.
Paul, interestingly, told the Corinthians that there was an inseperable connection between the “boots on the ground” and “mind in the clouds” aspects of maturity:
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
If we are to grow, which is what we were designed for, then there will have to be a dualistic dedication on our parts to both doing what we may not understand and determining to understand what we do. A simple explanation of the implications of the cross would take at least three days to lay out, but we can live in such a way as to demonstrate the cross’ power and effectiveness in a matter of moments. Being able to explain penal substitutionary atonement is not required for admittance into heaven, but Jesus said that unless we forgive our brothers and sisters for the wrongs they have done us He has little forgiveness for us as well.