Building on the Story
Over the past few years we have spent a lot of time getting to know the Biblical story. And that is where we should begin: by making ourselves familiar with the Story. But getting to know the Story is just the first step. The Story is the foundation. Now, the foundation is ready for some structure.
Many of us have tried to build our own structure as an attempt to answer life’s questions. Sometimes this might be based on a Biblical foundation but often these structures are built with popsicle sticks and a bit of glue: ideas based on our own feelings, cultural beliefs or even folklore. What we need is a strong framework resting on the sure foundation. That is the purpose of a catechism.
Tim Keller tells the story of their experience using the catechism as a framework for teaching the fundamentals of the faith. He writes… “When my son Jonathan was young, Kathy, and I started teaching him a children’s catechism. In the beginning we worked on just the first three questions:
Question 1. Who made you?
Question 2. What else did God make?
Answer. God made all things.
Question 3. Why did God make you and all things?
Answer. For His own glory.
One day Kathy dropped Jonathan off at a babysitter’s. At one point the babysitter discovered Jonathan looking out the window. “What are you thinking about?” she asked him. “God,” he said. Surprised, she responded, “What are you thinking about God?” He looked at her and replied, “How he made all things for his own glory.” She thought she had a spiritual giant on her hands! A little boy looking out the window, contemplating the glory of God in creation! What had actually happened, obviously, was that her question had triggered the question/answer response in him. He answered with the catechism. He certainly did not have the slightest idea what the “glory of God” meant. But the concept was in his mind and heart, waiting to be connected with new insights, teaching, and experiences.
I love that line…“the concept was in his mind and heart, waiting to be connected with new insights, teaching and experiences”. The catechism provides a structure into which our faith can grow and it provides the framework for us to make a home for our faith and for faith to be our home.