women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Jesus Is the Answer

In my travels yesterday I noticed a car ahead of me driving rather erratically. He wasn't endangering anyone, but the driver had a definite case of "wander-itis." He sort of glided along in a fog, oblivious of the other drivers, some of whom were trying to pass and were more than a little nervous about doing so, due to the apparently cavalier attitude of the driver regarding his placement in the middle of his lane.

I wondered at the driver's training (or lack thereof) asking myself if the driver knew what he was doing. A few moments later I had my answer clearly stated by the bumper sticker on the car's rear end: "Jesus is the answer."

Scratching my head at the inadequacy of that answer, it occurred to me that, while Jesus may be the answer to many questions, clearly there are some questions which need perhaps a bit more enlightening (to say nothing of concrete) answer.

So, if Jesus is the answer, what is the question? And what happens to our world if we answer all questions with, "Jesus?"

" Who let the dog out?"

"Jesus"

"What's for dinner?"

"Jesus"

You can see the difficulties, can't you?

I'm not trying to be flippant or disrespectful to anyone's beliefs, but I believe there is a deeper point to my random (and sometimes faintly amusing) musings.

It is human nature to seek easy answers to tough questions:

"What does my life mean?"
"How should I raise my children?"
"Should I take this job?"
"How much can I afford to give?"
"Is it OK to be angry at my neighbor, and for how long?"
"What are my responsibilities to the community around me?"

Don't get me wrong. I believe that God is part of the answer to many of life's most troubling and rewarding challenges. But I think spouting a universal answer to all of life's questions runs the risk of reducing that answer to irrelevancy.

Asking yourself "What would Jesus do?" as the popular bracelets propose is a good place to start, but it is just that: a beginning, not an end. If we stop at this point, we abdicate a certain amount of our responsibility to use the intellect with which God has gifted us. We accept a pat answer instead of doing the hard searching required by mature faith. We disown our own process of enlightened discernment as well as our accountability to our fellow man.

I believe faith is a question, rather than an answer. I believe there is hard work required of us if we are to have any hope of bringing in God's kingdom. I believe part of that work is admitting that we may not have all the answers, but that we are learning to live into the questions.

I have to ask myself: In seeking facile answers, do we somehow miss seeing the full dimensions of the human soul and the inherent complexity of our world? Do we reduce the infinite until it fits on our bumper?

Isn't God bigger than that?

Aren't we?

4 comments:

La Cabeza Grande said...

Professing belief in a higher power neither excuses us from responsibility toward one another nor blankets us with immunity for our actions.

What you are talking about is the difference between digestible marketing jingoism for the masses and the hard work and complex choices we'd have to face as thoughtful, caring people.

Donna Lee said...

Unfortunately, clinging to aphorisms like "Jesus is the answer" is what folks will settle for so they don't have to face the hard questions. I am not a religious person and often find people who put their beliefs in my face offensive (of course they are doing it in a effort to save my poor pagan soul). But the bumper stickers make me sad. You're right, God, in whatever form you believe, is bigger than a bumper sticker.

Jejune said...

As an atheist I still agree with you that we have to be responsible for our choices in life, and not fall back on ridiculous slogans as a way of living.

Opal said...

I don't see why believing in a higher power means abdicating personal responsibility for one's actions. Unfortunately that seems to be the excuse for a lot of people these days. God(ess) is definitely bigger then this. God(ess) gave us intellect and free will and we should be using these gifts accordingly. Thus ends my little religious rant. :-D