In the third chapter of Exodus when Moses first encounters God we read –
“I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Exodus 3:3-4
Moses wanted to discover the WHY behind the WHAT and encountered a WHO. He turned aside to learn the reason for the phenomena and met with a Person.
The Psalmist cries out “WHY?” and is directed to a WHO in Psalm 42:5. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
Peace isn’t found in knowing the WHY of the WHAT, but in the WHO of the WHAT. When the Psalmist’s mind cries out, “WHY?”, he is met by Hope and Presence. For the philosophically minded, this is less than adequate because “reason is everything.” Yet in Christianity, those seeking reasons aren’t first given them. Rather, they are invited into a relationship. The one looking for answers is called to abide. The peace of God doesn’t come through understanding the WHY, but in knowing the WHO. You don’t have to understand the WHY of the WHAT in order to know the WHO. The WHO, the LORD, gives a peace beyond understanding. If there is a peace that is beyond understanding, that means that understanding can never attain it. Reason will never lay hold of it. Understanding is like a train. It can take you many places and you will see some wonderful things. But even as the train has to stop at the ocean’s edge, there is a point beyond which reason cannot take you. Faith is like the airplane that can take you well beyond and above the ocean’s edge. The WHAT and the WHY have limitations. The WHO is infinite. An ounce of WHO is worth more than a pound of WHY.
In Christianity, the truth isn’t a proposition or a statement. The truth is a Person. Truth isn’t a WHAT, it’s a WHO. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Truth is a WHO. Truth is a Person, not a proposition. You can memorize the entire Bible and never know the WHO. Truth, life, and salvation are in the WHO and not in the WHAT and WHY. The soul is satisfied by a WHO and not a WHAT or a WHY.
Jesus chose the Twelve Apostles. Their authority wasn’t in their ability to know the WHATS and the WHYS of life and religion. Their authority was in the WHO who chose them. I am not the pastor at Calvary Chapel Fremont because I know the most WHATS and WHYS of the Bible and life. I am the pastor because of WHO chose me to be the pastor. Therefore, I do not need to be insecure in the presence of someone who knows more WHATS and WHYS than I. My authority isn’t derived from my education or my knowledge, it comes from Christ, from a WHO and not a WHAT. I do not need to be insecure if someone can preach and teach better than I. My authority isn’t derived from ability, but from calling, from a WHO and not a WHAT. It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know. And WHO knows you.
This blog is not meant to communicate that once you know Jesus, you can put your brain in a baggie and go through life with a wise stupid grin on your face. Knowing the WHO does not eliminate the need to learn the WHATS and WHYS of life and Christianity. I love reading theology and philosophy and apologetics and Bible commentaries and history. I want to know as many WHATS and WHYS as I can. Yet the WHATS and WHYS can never substitute for knowing the WHO. My preaching and teaching is filled with WHATS and WHYS but they are all in service of the WHO. The WHATS and the WHYS are all meant to lead to the WHO.
Why does the Good Shepherd lead us into the Valley of the Shadow of death? What lesson does He want us to learn? That He is enough. We are so preoccupied with discovering the WHATS and WHYS of our suffering (that never really satisfy the soul) we miss WHO is offering Himself to us. We Evangelicals are good at studying and thinking and reasoning, but not so good at communing and abiding. Someone has said that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail. If our dominant tool is thinking and studying and reasoning, then we will think that every problem will yield to reason. We are foolish to think that a problem that calls for a WHO can be resolved with a WHY or a WHAT. Reasoning runs out of track while faith soars.
For the philosopher who loves the world of the mind, reason is enough. For the materialist who loves the world of physical objects, happiness is enough. For the Christian who loves God, Christ is enough. The illogic of postmodernism reigns in the West today precisely because reason is not enough. Happiness is never enough because you can’t get enough of that which is perishing. Yet in Christ, the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. Christ is eternal God. He is not going anywhere. Christ is enough. The philosopher is on an eternal quest to know the WHY. The materialist is breathlessly pursuing the WHAT. The Christian is known by the WHO and knows the WHO.