Hello SPV Fam, this is Chris sending you greetings from South Carolina!
I’ve been thinking lately how guilty I (and church leaders in general) have been in making following Jesus a lot more complicated than it should be. And in fairness, there is A LOT to it if you think about it. The story (of God) can be simplified but it’s still a really BIG story. And the Bible is pretty big, 66 different books, hundreds of chapters and thousands of pages. And then there are the various theological interpretations of all of those different passages. And then there are particular worship styles and traditions to sort through and then the day-to-day questions and challenges we all face with our particular faith journey.
So, while I completely acknowledge there is A LOT involved, I also feel like we need to constantly remind ourselves and each other that Jesus emphasized to his audience mustard seed sized faith and a childlike faith approach. It was those who were “adding on” and complicating things that were distancing themselves from the heart of the true kingdom.
Read this passage from Mathew 17 about the Transfiguration:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
Now, I won’t even begin to try to explain what the transfiguration was, what was actually happening or even why because it’s a really odd story. But what I do find really interesting is that while in the midst of a pretty “trippy” supernatural experience, Peter, James and John jumped quickly to try and add to the experience or even put their own little spin on it. They even asked Jesus if they could build three different tents to make room, space or places of honor for Moses and Elijah (who represent The Law & The Prophets respectively) in addition to Jesus. But look what happened, a booming voice (booming enough to scare the living daylights out of them) told them to listen to Jesus and gave no mention of Moses or Elijah. Verse 8: “And when they opened their eyes, they saw only Jesus.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying The Law and The Prophets aren’t important and that “fleshing out” various aspects of the faith aren’t necessary. But I believe this passage of scripture is an important reminder that when an encounter with Jesus is taking place, let’s not look to add something to the moment (build a tent or otherwise) but rather simply “listen to him” and allow everything else to fade away into the background so that when we lift up our eyes “we see no one but Jesus.”
Much love and a sweet simplicity of faith to you all,