That's been a struggle for me of late. I remember sitting in an advanced hermeneutics class with Dr. Hans Bayer at Covenant and he said something like, "I feel sorry for you all. Now, after having taken this class, you won't ever be able to just sit with the word and enjoy it without thinking about the nuances of this class coming to play." I've heard professors of preaching say similar things in their classes. And, it's true.
This week I'm preparing for the two classes I'll be teaching - I'm reading in things like myth and ancient cosmologies. I'm reading on the flexibility of language and the impossibility of being precise (and what that means for inerrancy). I'm reading on one of my favorite topics - the Lord's Supper. But it's technical reading. What do we mean by real presence? Is it corporal or spiritual? What's the relationship between the sign and the thing signified? Etc?
I really enjoy these things. Deeply enjoy them. And I think their incredibly important.
This morning my devotional reading was from Mark 10. Two pericopes stood out:
Mark 10:13, And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (ESV)And then, following close on the heels of this passage, comes the story of blind Bartimaeus:
Mark 10:50, And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (ESV)So, my reasoning is as follows: Jesus appreciates the faith of children - humble, believing, without pretense. This isn't at all to say that he doesn't also appreciate deep, intellectual, thoughtful faith (I think both are needed). And, if Jesus wants this in us, and we want it, he's more than capable of granting it. After all, he restored the sight of a blind mind (and brings dead people to life and turns hearts of stone back into flesh, and...). So, I'm praying, restore my simplicity. Not, take away my intellect or my desire to think critically. But, with that, add simplicity.