Old Time Religion: Good Enough for Jesus
Christopher B. Harbin
John 14:15-21; Acts 17:22-31; 1 Peter 3:13-22
A title caught my eye in a bookstore this week: God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer. This is indeed one of our most perplexing questions. On one level, it may be that Buddhism answers the question of why most directly--we suffer because we desire. In another sense, the Bible gives us the answer that we suffer due to sin, whether our own or that of others. On another level, we suffer because of faulty expectations. None of these answers, however, is truly satisfying. They speak to part of the equation, but not the whole picture. Does the Bible really have no fitting answer, however, to the problem of suffering and pain?
While I must agree that the Bible does not decisively answer the issue of suffering, the larger problem is that we just don't like the answer it gives. The most significant Biblical response to suffering is Jesus Christ--God in human flesh. The Bible may not fully answer why, but it shows God participating in our suffering. Suffering may be part of our lives, but it was also part of Jesus' existence, becoming life for us. Luke, Paul, Peter, and the author of Revelation do not seem nearly as distressed by suffering as we would like them to be. Is what was good enough for them good enough for us?
As human beings, we tend to glamorize aspects of the past. Some things we highlight as worse than reality, but all too often we paint the good life of the old days with too broad a brush. The Archie Bunker theme song spoke of the good old days when Archie's issues had not yet arisen. Tim McGraw sings of a simpler life "Back When." The old spiritual, "Gimme Dat Ole Time Religion," follows the same line of nostalgia.
Gimme dat old-time religion, gimme dat old-time religion, gimme dat old-time religion. It's good enough for me. It was good for our mothers. It was good fo ...
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