Lectionary Year B
June 18, 2000
John 3:1-17

Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

How Can Anything Be?

      A debate of sorts was taking place. Not a formal exercise in a debating team, but a rather intense discussion in a religion class. It was a small Baptist college in North Carolina. The professor, Chad Hendricks, had been teaching religion there for a decade and he enjoyed his teaching most when students challenged him. At the beginning of each semester he emphasized to his students that he didn't want them merely to soak up the official "party line" - as he called it - of Christian teachings, but that they would much more appreciate the teachings of the church if they struggled with them and challenged them. He had a term for it. "Run it through your own meat grinder," he often encouraged them, "so it isn't just a matter of getting the right answers."

      Hence, the discussion and challenges taking place on this day resulted from such encouragement on his part. They were discussing the dual nature of Christ. "How could Jesus be both God and man?" one student wanted to know. "It doesn't make sense."

      "What would the trustees do if they knew you allowed us to challenge these things in your class?" another student teased Chad.

      "We don't tell the trustees everything that goes on in here," Chad said with a smile. "Anyway, I'm not worried about it. But let's get back to the comment someone made a moment ago, about this teaching not making sense."

      Before he could continue another student said, "It's just not logical."

      "You're both right," the professor admitted. "One important thing we have to bear in mind is that our Christian faith isn't necessarily logical and it often doesn't make sense. But you see, religion doesn't have to make sense."

      One of the students offered, "I can relate to the hard sciences - physics, math - because they follow logical sequences; you can move logically from step to step without causing mental disruption." The class chuckled a bit at that one.

      "I fully agree that you can do that in the hard sciences," Chad responded. "But one point you might be overlooking is that religion - and particularly Christianity - doesn't claim to be logical. It operates in a different level of our being. And, by the way, don't make the mistake of thinking the hard sciences are more legimate and credible just because of logic. Logic isn't the final arbiter of all things either."

      "But let's get back to the subject to Jesus being both God and human," a student suggested. "How can that be?" another asked.

      Chad allowed the questioning to go on for a few moments, then asked, "How can baptism bring us into God's family? How could God create the universe? But let's follow that question 'How can anything be?' a bit further."

      "How can it?" a student asked.

      "It can because God wants it to be... " Chad began.

      "Oh brother!" the student sighed.



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