Understanding Calculus without Algebra

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!

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12 Comments
  1. Sue February 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    This book, is an excellent choice for a movie, this book helped me, as I’m sure it has helped so very many. It addressed so many of my own feelings, my own guilt for having those feelings and it even helped my imagination run where it never had before. Thank you Wayne and thank you Heavenly Father. =)

  2. tim ainley February 17, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I really like what you said Wayne and agree. Thanks for sharing

  3. Sue February 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

    This book, is an excellent choice for a movie, this book helped me, as I’m sure it has helped so very many. It addressed so many of my own feelings, my own guilt for having those feelings and it even helped my imagination run where it never had before. Thank you Wayne and thank you Heavenly Father. =)

  4. tim ainley February 18, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I really like what you said Wayne and agree. Thanks for sharing

  5. Dyann February 18, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Thanks, Wayne

    Really enjoyed this post. My sister and I were having a very similar discussion just last week!

  6. Wayne February 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Hi Tim. Been a long time, Bro! Hope you’re well. Thanks, too for the comments from others. Always encouraging to find others on a similar journey.

  7. Dyann February 18, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Thanks, Wayne

    Really enjoyed this post. My sister and I were having a very similar discussion just last week!

  8. Wayne February 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Tim. Been a long time, Bro! Hope you’re well. Thanks, too for the comments from others. Always encouraging to find others on a similar journey.

  9. Dawid Botha February 19, 2012 at 7:17 am

    I think it is a great idea!! As long as they stick to the script/you have final say about final script!! Dawid

  10. Dawid Botha February 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I think it is a great idea!! As long as they stick to the script/you have final say about final script!! Dawid

  11. April McElroy February 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I just happened upon this blog, and would very much love to see this book come to life and reality through movie form. I have read both this book and “He Loves Me,” and God spoke very deeply into my heart through both of them and I thank Him for that, and thank Wayne Jacobsen for being that willing and open vessel to be a mouthpiece for God.
    As I was reading this blog, it was confirmation of something God spoke loud and clear to me about a month ago, and has been re-iterating ever since. Thought I would share.
    God told me that He may be a big, powerful, VAST God, but complex is one thing He is not. He is quite simple and easy to understand if we learn to understand His ways, get to know Him for who He truly is, and don’t over-complicate Him as so many do. He made it very clear to me that it is the created human with limited understanding that make Him complex and complicated and hard to understand, not Him. Jesus speaks of child-like faith, and God reminds me often to come to Him as a child. If you think about that, it is easier for a child to come to Him and understand Him than an adult, b/c children do not overcomplicate things. Children come to Him with the basic knowledge and understanding that is within their grasp and scope of reasoning and comprehension, and that’s the perspective that they see God in…simplicity. I am not ashamed or to proud to admit that my children have a stronger more realistic knowledge of who God is because they do not let the burdens and barriers of life stand between them and God, and they do not overthink God’s word, add or subtract, argue it, try to rationalize it or process it through or analyze it or study it so much that it becomes somethign that it’s not. They take it at face value, as literally God speaking ver batim to them. Why do people have to complicate God? When He’s really quite simple? As He said to me, big vast and powerful He is no doubt, but complex He is not. He is simple and easy to understand if you just take the time to get to know Him for who He truly is. Relationship vs Religion.
    Hope I didn’t say too much. Thank You for the confirmation. Blessings and prayers to you Wayne. Will be looking forward to that movie.
    God day to you all : )

  12. April McElroy February 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I just happened upon this blog, and would very much love to see this book come to life and reality through movie form. I have read both this book and “He Loves Me,” and God spoke very deeply into my heart through both of them and I thank Him for that, and thank Wayne Jacobsen for being that willing and open vessel to be a mouthpiece for God.
    As I was reading this blog, it was confirmation of something God spoke loud and clear to me about a month ago, and has been re-iterating ever since. Thought I would share.
    God told me that He may be a big, powerful, VAST God, but complex is one thing He is not. He is quite simple and easy to understand if we learn to understand His ways, get to know Him for who He truly is, and don’t over-complicate Him as so many do. He made it very clear to me that it is the created human with limited understanding that make Him complex and complicated and hard to understand, not Him. Jesus speaks of child-like faith, and God reminds me often to come to Him as a child. If you think about that, it is easier for a child to come to Him and understand Him than an adult, b/c children do not overcomplicate things. Children come to Him with the basic knowledge and understanding that is within their grasp and scope of reasoning and comprehension, and that’s the perspective that they see God in…simplicity. I am not ashamed or to proud to admit that my children have a stronger more realistic knowledge of who God is because they do not let the burdens and barriers of life stand between them and God, and they do not overthink God’s word, add or subtract, argue it, try to rationalize it or process it through or analyze it or study it so much that it becomes somethign that it’s not. They take it at face value, as literally God speaking ver batim to them. Why do people have to complicate God? When He’s really quite simple? As He said to me, big vast and powerful He is no doubt, but complex He is not. He is simple and easy to understand if you just take the time to get to know Him for who He truly is. Relationship vs Religion.
    Hope I didn’t say too much. Thank You for the confirmation. Blessings and prayers to you Wayne. Will be looking forward to that movie.
    God day to you all : )

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