Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Who? What?

There's another difference in the way that we tell the story of God and the way that the prophets and apostles told the story of God. It's not just about whether we tell it from the beginning, over and over and over again in its fullness; it's about the pronouns we use when we tell it.

We live in a world that's all about facts and data. When you want to get to know someone, you ask for more facts and data about that person. You may ask what they do for a living. You may ask what they believe. You may ask what kind of family they have. But that's about where you'd stay - in the whats.

We tell God's story the same way - the "Who" we want to introduce in the "what"s and the "that"s, as though that's enough. What God did. That God did it. Again and again, as though it's a chain of events, a sequence of God data that, once memorized as sort of a timeline or an autobiography, will reveal all that we need to know about who God is.

But if you look at the Scriptures, at the way the prophets and the apostles and the witnesses tell God's story, it's always in the "how"s. Go ahead. Read it. It's the way they branch the story out from the whats. 

The prophets remember that God rescued us in Egypt, how He called out Moses to be a leader of the people, how He revealed Himself to Pharaoh in power and in strength. We remember how He gave His people a king, choosing David to serve Him. The apostles talk about how He came as Christ to dwell among us. How He met Paul on the road. 

They don't remember that He did these things, although this seems to be enough for the modern Christian; they remember how He did them - a calling to life, a living memory, a scene unfolding before their very eyes, not a mere fact to be recalled. 

It's a subtle but important difference. And maybe you're thinking that it's just semantics, that there's nothing to it but words. Maybe you're even thinking that it's all in the translation, that the Bible uses the word "how" in the same way that we might use the word "what" or "that." That it's six of one and a half-dozen of the other. But that's just not the case. 

The human brain processes a how differently than a what. And more importantly, the human heart does, as well. 

Take any story and see how a how changes it. Remember that time that you were sitting around the lunch table with good friends? That you laughed so hard that milk came out of your nose? Maybe now, you're embarrassed to think about it. You don't need a reminder that milk came out of your nose. But remember when you were sitting there, how you laughed so hard that milk came out of your nose? The how makes it happen all over again, as if you're reliving it, and now, you're laughing - maybe at the same joke, remembered. 

Or remember the funeral of your loved one, that your uncle gave a beautiful euology? That was certainly a moving event. But remember how your uncle gave a beautiful eulogy? All of a sudden, you're hearing it again and you can't help but notice tears forming in your eyes. 

The how changes the story from a mere fact to an event. 

And that's why when the prophets and the apostles tell the story of God, the story of Jesus, they always talk about the how. They talk about the happening. They talk about the manner in which things occurred - not merely that they did, but how. Because this is what's revealing of God's character. This is what shows us His heart. This is what confirms for us His presence.

How now, Christian friend? How now? 

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