I met with a man last week who wants to turn So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore into a movie. I’ve long thought that done right the John and Jake conversations could be a compelling movie, but I wouldn’t want to trust anyone to get the story right. And since I didn’t know him we arranged to spend some time together during my recent trip to Washington. We had a great conversation and I think he really gets it and wants to embellish the same things in that book that I do and make an independent picture of that story and share it with an entirely new audience.
What’s more, he was at the Sundance Film Festival a couple of weeks ago and happened to sit next to a screenwriter he didn’t know who happened to be reading that book. What are the odds of that? So, we are discussing having her take first pass at the screen play and she wants to work collaboratively with me in making sure we get the story right. Pretty cool. We are moving slowly here, so don’t expect a constant stream of updates. He’s already involved in a movie now and is thinking this might be “what’s next” for him.
As part of our dialog, however, he shared an illustration with me that I loved. He shared that one of the greatest challenges that people face on this journey is that they gt caught up in trying to sort out college level and beyond concepts and ideas, when we haven’t even begun to focus on or even master 3rd and 4th grade material:
“For instance”, he said, “one of the biggest lessons that Christ gave, I believe, is to ‘First take the plank (or log) out of your (own) eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from you brother’s eye.” If we were all to focus on just this one lesson, I believe the world would be a much different place. A lot of our fights seem to occur at the college level material and beyond. While it’s fun and even worth while to question whether Heaven is ‘this’ or ‘that’ or whether the afterlife is like ‘this’ or like ‘that,’ it’s like trying to fully understand calculus without any knowledge of algebra. Once you learn algebra your relationship and understanding of the words that describe calculus change, evolve and take on different meaning. So trying to understand the spiritual with only the religious or the heart with only the intellect or the experiential with only the concrete can be provide quite the difficulties.”
I’ve thought about it a lot sense. I used to have a profound curiosity about the great theological questions of eternity, eschatology, and God’s sovereignty. I have found over the last few years that my growing engagement with Father has lessened my hunger to sort out those things, or even to engage in the ongoing debates about them. Spiritually I’m still in the third grade trying to understand how to love the people around me each day in the same way I am loved by Father. And I am loving that. There’s a reason Jesus passed over the disciples’ incessant questioning on such matters. “No one knows the date but the Father himself.”
If that’s spiritual calculus, and I’m still years away from spiritual algebra, then I don’t have to waste my time figuring out those things that are best left to him. That’s why in The Jesus Lens, I talked about being certain where Scripture is certain, and being ambiguous where Scripture is ambiguous. I know that isn’t easy, especially when someone in spiritual first grade is expounding on their theological convictions and you find it a turn-off. You might feel embarrassed that they seem to know something you don’t know until you realize that they don’t know it either. And their need to convince you how right they are is all the proof you need to know they aren’t really sure themselves.
Let’s learn to live loved-—by him, and then out of that love with others. If we learn to do that well, who knows we might someday get into a bit of algebra!