The Long View
In our Tuesday morning Bible Study, we are exploring some of the doctrines of the early church, and the theological questions that those doctrines sought to answer. With respect to the Bible, we have taken a closer look at how the Bible came to be, what books were kept in and wat books were kept out. In terms of our understanding of God, we have begun exploring the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us that our God is one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, we began our exploration by taking a closer look at the relationship between God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, and God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. From there we will add the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, into the mix in order to have a fuller understanding of the Trinity as a whole. We will also be taking a closer look at what we believe about Jesus and what it means to affirm that he is fully human and fully God. We will be delving into these ideas over the course of several weeks. Yet, what has truly fascinated me is that the church has spent hundreds of years trying to figure out these aspects of our faith.
It is estimated that the Old Testament took about 1000 years to write, collect, and edit all the 39 books that we have today. The New Testament took about 100 years. Yet, the finalized list of the 27 books of the New Testament didn’t come together until about 327 AD, 300 years after Christ’s death and resurrection. The Trinitarian question of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son was officially settled in 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea. (It is from this council that we have the Nicene Creed.) Even though this question was settled in 325 AD, the church spent decades before this trying to get their minds around this doctrine. The church would spend the next 50-60 years going back and forth on this doctrine that was considered official. It would still be another 100 years before the church would settle the question of Jesus, that he was fully human and fully divine.
The church has never been accused of being speedy when it comes to settling matters, as our history shows. Yet, this slow process that we go through is often forgotten, or distained, when new issues rise up in the church. In our modern world of instant gratification we have come to believe that all issues need to be resolved with lightning speed, issues in the church as well as in our country. We are very impatient. Perhaps that is why we are so unwilling to listen to one another and instead seek to crush those who disagree with us so that issues can be resolved right away, allowing us to move on to something else. By taking the short view of things, we deny ourselves true growth and transformation.
The long view, on the other hand, allows us to slow down, listen to each other, meditate, thoughtfully pray through the issues, and share our thoughts in a meaningful, rather than antagonistic, ways. The long view allows us to develop a teachable heart and creates with in us the possibility for transformation, because when we slow down, we are less anxious to find quick answers and more ready for the Spirit to work in and through our lives. The long view, so evident in the history of the church, invites us to release our grasp on the need to control, and to trust the God has and will continue to work out his purposes, and invites us to join in working with him.