You’re probably familiar with the story about the church member who came to church despite inclement weather and found he and the pastor were the only ones present.
The pastor went ahead with a full-length service and an extra long sermon. Afterward, the church member told the pastor about feeding his cattle. He concluded by saying that if he went to the field and only found a couple of cattle had shown up, he didn’t give them the whole load!
There is a lot of truth in that story, and it applies to more than just sermons. God has the kind of wisdom to keep from overloading us. Jesus said it well to his disciples in the Gospel of John 16: 12: ”I have much to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” When Jesus first started working with his disciples, he didn’t try to explain everything. He knew they weren’t ready.
There is a principle at work here that helps us understand God’s work in the world. It is only possible to tell a person as much as they can understand. All truth from God has to be fitted to a person’s capacity to receive it. In other words, God starts with where we are.
This helps us to see the big picture of the Bible. Some folks have read the Old Testament and the New Testament and concluded God must have changed a great deal from the past to the present. One person I know even talked about “the God of the Old Testament” and “the God of the New Testament”. Did God change or did God gradually reveal more and more about himself as time went on? This idea is called progressive revelation and it has always been such a helpful idea to understand history and my own individual journey.
In the Old Testament, some things happened that made God seem harsh and judgmental. We also see God teaching the people a little more all the time.
First God taught the people of Israel he was only one God, not many gods like the other religions. Then God made it clear he would be their God and they would be his people. Later he revealed more and more about his plan through Moses, David, and eventually Jesus who was the perfect revelation of God.
The people didn’t seem to be ready for everything at once. Gradually God taught them about forgiveness, mercy, and love. It happens that way on the personal level. When I first decided to follow Christ, I sure didn’t know he would lead me into the pastoral ministry. I guess he knew I wasn’t ready. Besides, that was the last thing I had in mind.
Everything in life needs a process of development. I didn’t ask my wife, Debbie, to marry me on our first date. Our relationship was a process of getting ready.
God is working with us to be ready for the next level of revelation. That revelation doesn’t come to us from a book or creed, it comes from a living person. The nearer we live to Jesus, the closer we are to God’s truth, and that’s the best place for us to be.
Prayer: Our Lord, prepare us for the things that we need to do next, help us also in the things that we don’t think we are ready for. Amen