May this year be a marvelous exploration of that which we cannot understand, of stepping into another level of learning, of exploring a boundless sea yet always realizing that the horizon, though it looks like the edge of the earth, is only the beginning, only the very brink of our awareness of what is already true within, which, like the glistening waters beneath the sun, can reflect the flaming ball—hanging there in the blue, naked sky—in portions, yet cannot reflect all its light, and does not try to, for these waters know that they are not the sun and cannot be the sun (and do not even dare to “know”!), and therefore never cease to reflect sparkling slivers of its magnitude. Forgive us for believing we can see the edge. Forgive us for thinking that just because we see the ball in the distance we can therefore hold it in our palms. If I want to continue the voyage, if I wish to reflect the incomprehensible, then surely I cannot throw “You” at others as if I am flinging a baseball. You are not that simple and I am not that athletic. If no eye has seen and no ear has heard, then I am therefore blind and deaf—yet also free from dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of mystery, for mystery has no alphabet, no words that can adequately describe the unfathomable, which is You…and You in me…and me in You. Won’t You forgive our ignorant simplicity?
I recently interviewed Sara White, wife of late NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White, one of the most renowned outspoken Christians (nicknamed “The Minister of Defense”) to ever play in the NFL. In our interview, Sara transparently talked about some of the misconceptions that were floating around regarding Reggie’s faith before he died.
In Reggie’s final years, the Whites stopped celebrating holidays like Christmas and Easter, and they decided to no longer call themselves “Christians” (this, Sara says, put God in a box in our culture of labels) but called themselves “believers” instead. Because of all this, some concluded that Reggie had renounced his Christian faith; others believed he might have become a Jew; there was one Christian minister, Sara says, who called him a heretic.
My point in writing this column is not to rehash something that happened over a decade ago (Reggie died on December 26, 2004), but rather to explore a trend that still takes place within the church today.
Isn’t it interesting how some, specifically in the evangelical community, become irritated whenever someone comes along and begins to seemingly tamper with tradition, offer a different viewpoint, or peel back the wrapping paper of someone’s, or a denomination’s, perfectly packaged theological box?