WE’RE SUPPOSED TO EAT, NOT KNOW THE MENU!
With no “theology” and no “doctrine” of any kind, a simple reading of the Gospel lets us know what is good for life and how one should live it, without this requiring any “special” explanation to whoever wishes to benefit from the Good News.
Yes, the Good News doesn’t try to persuade a priori. It simply says, “Taste me. If you do, you’ll know it’s true. Not before that. Not by any other means or ways”.
The persuasion of the Good News comes from the concretion of that which is Good. It’s as simple as that.
Any “gospel” that is a kit of beliefs and doctrines, and a “package that contains God” (according to some theologies), is very useful to foster a religious mindset that claims to be better not because it does any good, but owing to its would-be superiority of behavioral values that are proclaimed.
“I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” can never, ever, be replaced with “I have come that you get to know the whole set of truths, so that you become superior to all the others who are ignorant of it”.
The only way of appraising the truth of the Gospel only happens in real life—not because you beat a heretic in some theological argument, but on the account of the results in one’s existence, if it’s plentiful of life according to righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the Gospel doesn’t try to explain anything. It simply invites us into a trustfulness that is fruit of having been reached by a touch of Grace, which turns into an attraction that lays itself down as a surrender that, then, brings about the response of following Jesus.
In this way, the one who surrenders to Jesus doesn’t get an answer key to it all; instead, he accepts to follow him because he was convinced after personally experiencing the Good of the Gospel that somehow touched him and made him “taste and see that the Lord is good”.
Such a person, therefore, won’t be concerned about “understanding God”. His happiness is in the awareness that God understands him. So, he goes on, uncurious about what God is planning, and only interested in what Jesus proposes as being the way. And to that person, each thing need not have an explanation, but a proper response. Then, if powerless, he prays; if well-off, he gives thanks; if hit by calamity, he trusts in the good hidden in God’s love; if he’s the subject of persecution, he is glad; if miracles happen, he rejoices; if they don’t, he gives himself over to the miracle of trusting...
In short, that person learns the “how”, not the “why” of things. In fact, he might even learn the “why”, but not before he summons up his courage, by faith, to live up to the “how” of the Gospel.
In fact, it’s the “how” of the Gospel that explains its “why”—when it does. And, as a rule, the explanation is never based on “logic for logic’s sake”, but rather, something that we personally experience and taste as an inner, unexplainable good, that convinces our heart of truth through the peace it promotes inside, and whose fruit are yielded as a “way” of walking.
It’s no accident that Paul says that “the kindness (goodness) of God leads you to repentance”. Yes, in the Gospel, whatever is established as authentic and lasting results from tasting God’s goodness.
Therefore, it’s by experiencing God as good to our beings that a change in our minds takes place; a metanoia that brings about repentance—a change of mindset, and, accordingly, a change of our ways.
As I said at the beginning, the Gospel doesn’t offer explanations; instead, it tells you how to live. It’s out of this “how”—that isn’t a handbook on behavior; rather, it’s a way of seeing, being, valuing, disvaluing, responding, acting according to certain principles, and facing existence—that growth of faith comes.
That’s why in the Gospel things go on from faith to faith as well as build up from experience to experience (see Romans 5.1-5). In the end, though, you don’t become all-knowing, but you do experience God’s love, which brings along a hope that never makes us confused about anything, especially the trials and absurdities of existence.
Only by abandoning yourself and practicing the Gospel by faith, in accordance with an absolute trust, will you be able to taste Truth according to Jesus—for The Truth is only made true for the individual if it’s tasted and experienced, according to Jesus (see John 7.17).
That’s why the author of Hebrews warns us about having “tasted the powers of the coming age” and then left behind what we know from our heart’s experience according to our experiencing of Grace.
The worst way of harming ourselves, according to the Gospel—with no doctrinal-theological explanations whatever—, is to taste its good and then trade it for the religion of rules that doesn’t do any real good to life. On the contrary, it drains life away of its previous good and then gives it an alleged truth under the form of religion. In fact, this is the overall spirit of the epistle to the Hebrews.
The “Fall” took place by way of experience, not speculations about truth or lie, good or evil. “[He] took of its fruit and ate”—it’s what is said. It was that way with the first Adam, and, far more effectively, it’s also that way concerning the second Adam: Jesus. “Take, eat, and you will have life…whoever feeds on me shall live by me…”
Now, just as sin became true by means of tasting and experiencing, also the good of the Gospel is made known by tasting and experiencing faith, which gives us the access to the fruit of the Tree of Life.
“Take it and eat!”—that’s the way it is in the Gospel.
From the original: “É PRA COMER. NÃO É PARA CONHECER O CARDÁPIO!”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | November 2006
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Interna