The Underachievers (Hebrews 5:11)

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. (Hebrews 5:11)

I’ve been spending the last three days with a group of clever folks planning Sunday School lessons to be taught all over the country next year and the years following. As we discuss the approaches that we’ll take to answering such questions as “Is there absolute truth?” or “What happens to Christians when they die?” we invariably wind up unpacking our thoughts to such an extent that we completely overfill the one-hour lesson possibilities.

One guy, a sort of philosopher and former missionary, continually brings up complex philosophical questions, questions completely relevant to the matter at hand but way too complicated to be thoroughly understood by our target audience: fifth and sixth graders. He’ll say something like this, “That’s great, but it is essential that we not ignore the epistemological ramifications of the propositional nature of revelation in the form of Scripture.” Okay, he didn’t really say that, but he does bring up interesting, complicated matters, sure to cross the eyes of intelligent adults.

When it comes to understanding something as simple as the nature of an infinite God, it’s no wonder that we cannot complete the task in sixty minutes, especially when teaching kids on the cusp of middle school, especially when using mostly non-specialists as teachers, especially when we consider that the lesson is more of a lifetime than an hour. I don’t fully understand the nature of God. I don’t fully understand my wife, so how can I hope to understand God?

The key, it seems to me, in this endeavor is not so much whether we fully understand the nature of God but whether we actually try to understand. The author of Hebrews here criticizes his readers for ceasing to try to understand. They don’t get it, not because they’re incapable but because they’re not making the effort.

While I will never fully comprehend the God who created the universe, I should never cease to try. Granted, as I learn more, I may recognize even more completely just how ignorant I am. I might die seeing more clearly just how far from full understanding I am. So be it. The more I know, the more I’ll know Him. I trust that the reward will be worthwhile.