My church has been involved in Upward Sports leagues for many years, and this includes Upward Soccer for children ranging from Pre-K through 7th grade, and more recently an Upward Soccer Challenger league for children with special needs. Regardless of the skill level of the players, every player is able to play. For soccer there are rules that must be learned and followed to be able to play the game, and there are soccer skills that are practiced and learned throughout the season. Imagine, however, if the children had to learn and master extensive details about the construction of soccer balls and the physics of kicking a soccer ball before they could play. Some knowledge of these details may have some pertinence to an advanced player, but are they required for a grade-school child to be able to play?
Here are some facts about soccer balls:
• An official match ball is roughly spherical and made of leather or other suitable material.
• It is of a circumference of not more than 28 inches and not less than 27 inches. The size of a soccer ball is roughly 22 cm (8.65 inches) in diameter for a regulation size 5 ball
• It is no more than 16 oz. in weight and not less than 14 oz. at the start of the match.
• It is of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (8.5 lbs/sq in to 15.6 lbs/sq in) at sea level.
• Smaller sizes are safer and more suitable for younger players.
However, soccer ball anatomy can become more complicated:
• Soccer balls are usually stitched from 32 panels of waterproofed leather or plastic: 12 regular pentagons (five-sided figures) and 20 regular hexagons (six-sided figures). The 32-panel arrangement is similar to the polyhedron known as the truncated icosahedron, except that due to the faces bulging from the air pressure inside, it becomes more round. Some premium-grade 32-panel balls use non-regular polygons to give a closer approximation to sphericality.
• This shape was also the configuration of the lenses used for focusing the explosive shock waves of the detonators in the “Fat Man” atomic bomb, and is also a molecular spherical arrangement of pure carbon atoms known as buckyballs (a.k.a. fullerenes).
• The truncated icosahedron is a 32-faced Archimedean solid, and the surface area (S) and volume (V) of the structure can be described mathematically, given a unit length, as:
• All of this gets more and more complicated, and I don’t really understand any of it any more than you do.
So what is the point of all of this soccer ball anatomy and geometry? Again, imagine if the soccer players had to know and understand all of these mathematical details in order to play soccer. Imagine if the players had to be able to describe the various physics of soccer ball movement before they were authorized to even begin to practice. Are any of the details listed above necessary for these children to be able to enjoy a game of soccer? Obviously, no.
However, all of these details are extremely important for us to be able to play soccer. If something was not right about the construction of a soccer ball it might explode on impact, or cause injury to the players. We don’t need to know or understand great detail about how a soccer ball is put together, but thank God there are people who do understand these details, in order that a soccer ball can be safely and effectively designed.
Do We Have to Fully Understand God?
What if we had to completely understand everything about God before we could believe in God? What if we had to know everything that Jesus ever said or did before we could accept Him as Savior? What if we had to know and understand everything in the Bible, and perfectly follow every command set forth in the Bible before we could even approach the Lord in prayer?
Fortunately, we do not have to know everything about God to believe in God, and in fact, it is impossible for anyone know everything about God.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” – Isaiah 40:28 (NIV)
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NIV)
It is impossible for the human mind to understand the nature of God, how He created the universe, how He works in us and in the world. Unfortunately, this can be a stumbling block for some people who refuse to believe in God because they do not understand such things as:
• How did God create the universe from nothing?
• How did God exist before time?
• How can God know everything before it even existed?
• How can God know every hair on my head, and every thought that I have?
• How can God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit be the same?
• How can a Holy Spirit come to live inside of me?
• How can a man be resurrected from the dead?
• How is it physically possible to receive a new body and be united with Jesus after we die, and have eternal life?
No one has the answers to these questions, except through faith. God defies the laws of logic, and God exists apart from the physical laws of the universe. We do not need to understand the physics of God to believe in God.
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – Hebrews 11:3 (NIV)
Do We Have to Fully Understand Everything About the Bible and Follow Every Command?
It is important to study the Bible, as it is God’s revealed word for us to understand what our earthly minds are capable of understanding about God. It is like an instruction manual for our lives. However, only through prayerful study can the true meaning of the Bible be revealed to us individually through the Holy Spirit. Different people can apply passages of the Bible differently based on their own life experiences.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV)
But how much of the Bible do we have to understand in order to believe? Is there ever enough that we can know or do to gain favor with God? Jesus has made this easy for us. Because of Jesus, all that we have to do is to believe in Him, and He will do the rest. We don’t have to understand it, just believe. Once we believe, understanding will be revealed to us.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. . .For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:9,13 (NIV)
And Jesus Himself said, in Mark 5:36, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
For essential information about what needs to be believed, see the page titled Steps to Salvation through Jesus Christ.