By Robert L. Short
Q. What’s the best thing you can do for yourself and others?
A. Know the Bible!
“Jesus answered them, ‘How wrong you are! It is because you don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power.’” – Matthew 22:29 TEV
When Jesus made this statement to the Sadducees, they weren’t discussing little questions. They were discussing some really big ones. These are the only questions the Bible and Jesus are interested in – the really big ones. For the most part, they are interested in meaning, not means. They discuss ultimates, not penultimates. The author of the book of Revelation talks about “the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 7:1, 20:8). Does this mean that John thought that the earth was shaped like this page, with flat corners? Maybe so. Maybe not.
Apparently the question didn’t bother him very much, or he would have mentioned it. No, John wasn’t interested in the physical shape of the world but in the spiritual shape the world was in. We’re asking the Bible the wrong questions when we come to it with our little questions. Its purpose is to answer the questions that really bother us the most and are the hardest for us to handle.
None of us can escape these big questions any more than we can escape seeing Woodstock’s single giant question mark here. These questions are to us what this question is to Woodstock: bigger than we are. They are also over our heads. Nevertheless, most of us are forced to come up with at least some provisional answers for these big non-provisional questions.
But what if our answers are wrong? This would mean we’d be basing our entire lives on something that wasn’t true. We’d be embarking on a long trip, but sailing on the wrong ship. And in the case of others, we’d constantly be suppling them with incorrect information.
When Snoopy attempts to write a book on theology, he hits on what he considers the perfect title: “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?” Good question. This is the first question of all good theology. “How do we know right from wrong?” “How do we know the truth?” Or “Can we know the truth?”
Also notice this: Jesus didn’t say, “In my humble opinion, it seems to me that you may be somewhat mistaken;” or, “Perhaps we should all think about this a little more.” No, he said bluntly, “How wrong you are!” You are wrong because your knowledge is inadequate; “You don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power.” Evidently, for Jesus, these were the two sources that held the answers to life’s really big questions. If he’s right, and we don’t want to be wrong, then obviously this is the best thing we can do for ourselves: Know the scriptures!
Shouldn’t we also know God’s power? Yes. But this is not anything we can do for ourselves. If it were, this would be a power we could control. It would not be God’s power but ours.
- Robert L. Short
A timely and provocative conversation between faith and culture, Short Meditations on the Bible and Peanuts is Robert L. Short’s follow-up to the 25th anniversary of the best seller The Gospel According to Peanuts. Charles M. Schulz, who became a Christian after his mother’s death in his early twenties, and Short, a theologian, team up using humor to make us think seriously.
Like The Gospel According to Peanuts and Parables of Peanuts, Short uses Peanuts comic strips to provide us with insightful glimpses into Truth. This was a perilous experiment that came off.
Short Meditations on the Bible and Peanuts, by Robert L. Short, will be available beginning in October through Westminster/Knox Press for $7.95.