The Gospel Is Simple But...

Jamie Jenkins


I wish I did not know as much as I do. Before you jump to a wrong conclusion, I am not suggesting that I am smart (some have suggested smart aleck). Certainly not too smart. Nor am I downplaying the importance of education.
I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to get a good education and for rich and varied experiences. I have learned a lot that has enriched my life but I am afraid it gets in the way of my faith sometimes.
I am not a “brainiac” but I do value the cognitive and intellectual abilities God has invested in me and other human beings. I am a thinker, maybe not on a very a deep level, but I am a heavily weighted “right-brain” person.
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral has been very helpful to me in sorting out what to believe and how to apply those principles to my living. I accept Scripture as “the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine” and believe the tradition of the Church throughout the centuries can teach us much. The experiences of one’s life are valuable resources in our effort to understand and appropriate the faith. The ability to reason helps to discern and sort out truth. Together the biblical, historical, experiential, and rational elements help to develop a mature and balanced understanding of the Christian faith and how it shapes one’s lifestyle.
Nevertheless there are times when I long to return to the more simple days when it was: “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” Andrew Stanton, Director of the movie, Finding Nemo, explained the creative challenge the folks at Pixar faced after a few successes. He said, “We had to work hard to be as naïve as we were before." It seems that he was suggesting that one can “lose the edge” if one is not careful.
As I gain more education and sophistication (many would question the application of this word to me), it becomes more difficult for me to have the childlike faith that Jesus advocated. Textual and historical criticism complicates my understanding of the Lord’s instruction: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).  And there are plenty of other such suggestions.
My basic personality is another complicating factor in my understanding of the Christian faith and living like I believe. I am hard-wired to question. I raise far too many questions for most people and I am not trying to difficult-really. My mother would say, “But, son, you don’t question God.” And I would reply, “Why?” I know that characteristic drives some folks nuts with me but I can’t help it.
My nature is to be a doubter. The Apostle Thomas is my patron saint. It is difficult for me to “believe without seeing.” I know that “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, New Living Translation). I know it. I believe it. But I find myself asking “why?” and “how?”
I am not sure why but the past few days the words of a song that I learned many years ago keeps coming to my mind. Maybe if I share these lyrics it will clear my head. The song is titled simply, God Can.
I can't tell when friends are true, but God can,
I can't look inside of you, but God can
Can't turn darkness into light, can't make mountains snowy white
Can't give blinded eyes their sight, but God can

Sometimes, I wonder in His plan, if He included me
And then, I think how one small acorn made the big oak tree
I can't make the morning dew, I can't make the skies a blue
I can't make a dream come true, but God can

I can't make a simple cloud, but God can,
I can't feed a hungry crowd, but God can
I can't make the lame to walk, I can't make the dumb to talk
Can't put corn upon a stalk, but God can.

Sometimes, I wonder in His plan, if He included me
And then, I think how one small acorn made the big oak tree
God will give the strength we lack, follow Him and don't look back
Sometimes, we can't see the track, but God can

I can't calm the raging sea, but God can,
Can't make honey like a bee, but God can
I can't make the lightening stop,
Can't make earth produce a crop
I can't make it rain a drop, but God can

Our great men showed their mighty power, on land, and air and sea
But, science can't produce one thing that lives, or dies, or breathes
I don't know just what's in store, I can't see through Heaven's door
Never walked this way before, we don't know what we're asking for.....

I can't tell you anymore, but God can!
I can't tell you anymore, but God can!
I am convinced that God can handle all my questions and doubts and use them to strengthen my faith and teach me God’s Way.  

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