On a recent flight home I spent a fair portion of the time just gazing out the window at some amazingly beautiful clouds. The sun reflecting off of the magnificent formations was spectacular. I tried to make out shapes like I used to when I was a kid.
The exercise reminded me of a classic Peanuts cartoon when Charlie Brown. Lucy, Linus and Charlie Brown are all gazing lazily at the clouds. Lucy asks the two boys what they see.
Linus Van Pelt: Well, those clouds up there look to me look like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean. [points up] That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor. And that group of clouds over there… [points] …gives me the impression of the Stoning of Stephen. I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side.
Lucy Van Pelt: Uh huh. That’s very good. What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: Well… I was going to say I saw a duckie and a horsie, but I changed my mind.
I get that “Charlie Brown” feeling when I read many of the other bloggers and theologians that I share space with on Crosswalk. I still can’t believe they give me virtual real estate to post my humble ramblings. While other Crosswalk contributers are writing deep theological treatises I feel like I am posting a spiritual version of “duckies and horses”. Perhaps we are all simply fulfilling our niche in the body of Christ. I know there is a need for theologians who can wrestle with complex passages and doctrinal issues. I know that men and women who can define and defend sound doctrine are vital to the stability of the church. I have spent many hours reading these deep works and working out my practical theology. I am grateful for the faith and intellect of these scholars. But when I look at my spiritual cloud formations I am very much like Charlie Brown. It is pretty simple.
I see that Jesus loves me.
I see the grace of God.
I see my identity in Christ.
I see my need for the community of believers.
I see forgiveness.
In those spiritual cloud formations I see the brilliant light of hope and love.
I am grateful that there are brilliant scholars who can write about topics like “A Test Case For New Testament Aphorism” and “A Review of Carsten Peter Thiede, The Qumran Fragment 7Q5 and its Significance For New Testament Studies”. If the church depended on me to research topics like those then Jesus might as well come on back. My brain would vapor lock and then explode if given an assignment like that.
I take comfort in a story recorded in the Gospel of Luke.
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Luke 18, NLT)
Jesus is not saying that I should act childish and immature. He meant that I must have that child-like trust, dependence, surrender to authority and need for relationship. So here’s to you theologians and scholars! I am grateful for you and your difficult work. You free me up to look at the clouds and sing my theology boldly.
Jesus loves me,
This I know,
For the Bible tells me so….