Years ago, I had a teen in my youth group who would always give the answer ‘Jesus’ to any question I asked on Sunday morning. It was done tongue in cheek, and I played along, always calling his name to answer a question when the answer really was ‘Jesus’. Probably most of us have heard the cliche that every answer in Sunday School is ‘Jesus’.
I think there’s some truth in this joke. But he reality isn’t all that funny. The truth is that frequently, those of us who work with youth and young adults in church are trying to cram a whole bunch of information into the heads of our students for about an hour each week so that they will become good Christian adults.
But information doesn’t create disciples. Just because I learn more doesn’t mean I grow or mature.
Jesus isn’t the answer. He’s the way, the truth and the life.
An answer is simple, easy, straightforward. It frequently gives an end to the conversation. What shape is the earth? A globe. But the truth is that it has mountain peaks and deep valleys. It has an ever changing cloud cover. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the beauty as it hangs in space, the mosaic of oceans and forests and deserts, the way it moves and tilts in space.
How can we be saved? Jesus.
But wait, what does that mean? Do we all too easily forget that he didn’t just die for us, but he lives for us? (Romans 5:10 “…If, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”)
Unlike an answer being the end of a conversation, Jesus being the way to God is the beginning of a lifelong journey, not an end point.
Thomas à Kempis, in The Imitation of Christ says this: “If I understood everything in the world and did not have divine love, what would it avail me in the sight of God, who will judge me according to my deeds?”
In other words, is anybody going to stand before the throne of God and hear him say, “Wow! You know so much stuff!”? Probably not, considering God isn’t seeking knowledge - he has it already. And when we enter eternity, all knowledge seemingly becomes available to us (see 1 Corinthians 13:12)
This life isn’t about having all the answers. As G.K. Chesterton said, “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”
God has not created us to be information terminals with the biggest library of resources possible. He created us to be seekers of the way, truth and life he provides. That’s how we point to God, not with arguments and citations.
I’m not trying to convey that Christianity should be anti-intellectual here. Getting my Master’s Degree in Theology was a great experience. But the primary way I can see my own development during that time is that I have better questions now that I did when I first started, not just lots of answers.
Jesus is not a finish line, he’s a running partner.