"he (Jesus) rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.'"
Jama and I were musing last night that we used to think we knew all the right answers to all the theological questions. But now we find ourselves thinking we need to go back and really study to find what is really important.
I 'grew up' in a time when simple answers were being given to people to explain the deeper questions of God. I'm sure the intention was right, but having a ready answer to cover every situation is how the rabbis of old ended up relying more on the books of interpretations that they had been handed and less on the Scriptures themselves. What was funny about those 'pat answers' was that there were so many of them. They weren't simple at all. And the effect they had was to teach us the ways of God and not to lead us to know God deeply.
The seventy-two disciples Jesus sent out on mission came back all excited because evil spirits had been subject to them in Jesus' name. But they were like students who try an experiment in class. Even though the teacher has given them all the chemicals they need and clear instructions on how to mix them, when the experiment works the students still become self-congratulatory, as if it was their astounding insight that made the reaction happen.
The disciples came back and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" The emphasis here is on US. And here's where the church so often gets it wrong when we try to disciple people. Our disciples come to us with the emphasis in the wrong place and we give them a big theological treatise on how they should have done it. Then we walk off all upset because, "I must have done something wrong, that my disciples don't get the formula."
Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit at that moment and revels in the joy that God is showing these amazing things to people who can't possibly understand them. He takes these disciples from the position of "student" all the way back to "little child". And isn't it awesome? God could have made it so that the deeper things of God were only revealed to people after they had studied and worked hard and "gotten an A". But the real A+ "work" is being done by those who abandon their status as students of Christ and sit at his feet marveling each time he rolls a ball to them so they can capture it.
G.K. Chesterton puts it best, "A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough... It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again," to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again," to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."
So, back the question from last night. Maybe knowing God isn't so complicated. Maybe all he really wants from me is wonderment.