Van finished up with John 6 today. In verse 65, concerning the matter of belief Jesus says " . . . no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." He says the same thing in verses 37, 39, and 44-45, my handy NIV Study Bible notes remind me.
Van closed his sermon with a great story, which I tracked down in the blog of the Christian Century Magazine and a post there by Duke Divinity School Professor Jo Bailey Wells:
Allow me [Wells writes] to indulge in a favorite story from a book that never seems to become dated: Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent Donovan. Donovan was a Roman Catholic priest-missionary in Tanzania in the 1960s. Exasperated with conventional forms of Catholic education , he persuaded his bishop to let him simply wander among the Masai tribes, sharing their life and talking about God.
Initially he wrestled with his own doubts about how the particular story of Jesus’ cross and resurrection translated into the Masai culture all around him. But a Masai elder converted Donovan by contrasting the faith of a Western hunter with the faith of an African lion. The Masai elder showed Donovan that his notion of faith was a profoundly Western notion: it was merely intellectual assent. “To ‘believe’ like that was similar to a white hunter shooting an animal with his gun from a great distance. Only his eyes and his fingers took part in the act.” The Masai elder said, “‘For a [person] really to believe is like a male lion going after its prey. His nose and eyes and ears pick up on the prey. His legs give him the speed to catch it. All the power of his body is involved in the terrible death leap and single blow to the neck with the front paw, the blow that actually kills. And as the animal goes down the lion envelops it in his arms. . .pulls it to itself, and makes it part of himself. This is the way a lion kills. This is the way a [person] believes. This is what faith is.”
The Masai elder went on. “You told us of the High God, how we must search for him, even leave our land and our people to find him. But we have not done this. We have not left our land. We have not searched for him. He has searched for us. He has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God.”
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