Wrestling with stupid questions
By Melodious Monk
This week’s Gospel reading was the story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to be his disciples. Jesus says to come and they drop everything and immediately follow him. In Sunday’s Eucharist bulletin we were given a short meditation by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“The Story of the call of the first disciples is a stumbling-block for the natural reason, and it is no wonder that frantic attempts have been made to separate the two events. By hook or by crook a bridge must be found between them. Something must have happened in between, some psychological or historical event. Thus we get the stupid question: Surely they must have known Jesus before, and that previous acquaintance explains their readiness to hear the Master’s call.”
I still laugh each time I read the humorous line “what a stupid question!” There’s much in the ways of God that we cannot understand, and I think it a bit humorous at times to laugh at some of our attempts to rationalize God’s doings. Bonhoeffer goes on to explain why he believes that the disciples so quickly dropped everything at Jesus’ beckoning: “…for the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself. It is Jesus who calls, and because it is Jesus, they follow at once.”
As Bonhoeffer alludes, our tiny reasoning brains are finite. God is the architect of all things, with a capacity to orchestrate much more than I can even imagine. Perhaps my daily questions don’t need to ask how God’s plans will work out or how I might recognize Him; rather maybe my job today is to stop asking so many questions. Questions that only get in the way of what our hearts are intuitively designed to do.
I had a trumpet teacher who’s favorite mantra was KISS, short for Keep- It-Simple-Stupid! It was his way of getting rid of unnecessary questions and tensions that get in the way of one basic truth of trumpet playing – simply that you must start with a good resonant sound, always. I often think of this “kiss” method in regard to the spiritual life. In many ways, Christianity can be very simple. Jesus is Lord, God of the universe, and I am not. He created me, loves me and has the best purposes for me, even if, and especially if I feel lousy today! This isn’t to say life here on earth can’t be very complicated, for there certainly are many gray areas, and lots of questions arise for all of us. But scripture tells us that on earth we barely see a glimpse of our future glory. It tells us that all things, yes all things can be used for the glory of God. We forget who created us, and that He promises to make us whole. Simply put, we need to have faith in Jesus and follow him. If we choose to let our hearts trust, then like the disciples, we will recognize Jesus exactly in his timing, and follow him immediately. Now of course we don’t always want to follow Jesus and we rebel and so forth–but that does not change God– and certainly does not change God’s promises to us. I think both Bonhoeffer and my trumpet teacher would agree on at least one life philosophy, Keep It Simple!