Like last Saturday, I’m continuing to share from Eugene Peterson’s Leap Over a Wall. Here he describes how life without God (what the Scriptures call “sin”) is finite and eventually boring.
“We have a finite number of ways to sin; God has an infinite number of ways to forgive. After observing the human condition for a few years, we find that in regard to sin we’re mostly watching reruns. After a while we find that people pretty much do the same old thing generation after generation. Sinning doesn’t take much imagination. But forgiveness and salvation? That’s a different story: every time it happens, it’s fresh, original, catching us by surprise.” (p. 190.)
The without-God life is like watching reruns. Every thrill is subject to the law of diminishing returns. What was exciting the first time isn’t exciting the next. What it takes to reach that same level of excitement starts costing more over time as well. There isn’t really anything new under the sun. Haven’t we been there and done that?
But, when we set our hearts and minds on things above from where our salvation comes, we begin to see truly new things take place. I find myself in friendship with an infinitely creative Father. He wants me to live life that is full of zest and joy. No reruns. (But maybe an occasional child-like “do-it-again”).
“In long retrospect over the Jewish and Christian centuries, it’s no exaggeration to say that anything we know about God that’s not prayed soon turns bad. The name of God without prayer to God is the stuff of blasphemy. The truth about God without love for God quickly becomes oppression.” (p. 207.)
Ouch! How much “unprayed theology” has gone sour in me in the past? In what ways have I gotten in the habit of putting insights in the pantry rather than digesting and living them? And why am I surprised when I start to smell something rotting in there? How much information do I know without really knowing it?
Father, continue to help me see theology as an expression of relationship, not merely as information correctly stated or categorized. Knowing Your name offers me the possibility of knowing You better. Knowing Your truth frees me from the deceptions that surround and overwhelm me in this world. May I learn how to give people space to pray what they are learning about God. May every insight become a place of deeper encounter.