Jesus is Not a System
Trust is about relationship, understanding is about intellect: which one comes first?
It’s so much easier to study about about Jesus than to be a student of Jesus. We face the constant temptation to fill our heads with the details of his life and ministry. Pastors and college professors emphasize the need to memorize Bible verses or learn Greek and Hebrew. Publishers produce massive volumes of systematic theology. Popular Christian books suggest Biblical keys to success for our finances, healing, or any other human need. But Jesus is not a system, he is a person.
Perhaps we should give ourselves first to filling our hearts and lives with his presence. An omniscient God is not impressed with the size of our intellect, but he is impressed with the size of our heart. How can a finite human mind grasp an infinite God? St. Augustine, one of the greatest intellectuals in history, lamented that the “mansion of his heart” was too small and asked God to graciously enlarge his heart, not his mind. The Holy Spirit, who breathed out every word of the scripture, is not impressed with how many verses we have committed to memory, but he is impressed with how many verses have found their way into our everyday lives. Jesus didn’t care much for religious knowledge, but he was astonished by the faith of simple people like widows and gentile soldiers.
Even though the Scripture encourages us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” we are constantly tempted to pursue human understanding regarding the words of Jesus when we should pursue his living presence. Trust is about relationship, understanding is about intellect. In Jesus, God chose to become a man. The infinite stooped down and clothed himself in humanity. In his earthly ministry Jesus did not reveal all the secrets of knowledge and learning in human history. He chose instead to reveal how it was possible to enter into relationship with the creator. Jesus chose to reveal the Kingdom of God. By his actions, Jesus taught relationship is more important than understanding. We know this intuitively. We tend to forget it when it comes to our faith.