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Faith

January 11, 2010 2 comments

Just a couple thoughts this morning.  I’ve let them stew for a while, so hopefully they don’t come out burnt and crispy.  Regardless of the final product, I feel like some things just ought to be addressed for the sake of avoiding stagnation and eventual spiritual decay.

Now, as I dig into the stew pot of thoughts, my wonderings this morning are as follows; what is faith?  And what does it mean to trust in God?

Here’s the premise by which I am asking these two questions.  I am convinced that as a follower of Christ, my life MUST be a life of action.  Thus, if I stand on that conviction, I find a disconnect within the language and behavior of the majority of the population that claims a Christian label.  Bear with me as I attempt to clean up the assertion a bit.

In addressing the first question, what is faith?  If this question was to be pointed anywhere near a child of the evangelical movement, most certainly, this verse would be quoted:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Often, that’s how we define faith, yet we have great difficulty defining it in physical and active terms.  The following verses in Hebrews highlight the lives of a host of biblical personalities that “by faith” lived differently.  Here is the first disconnect: We don’t equate faith with action as did the saints in Hebrews.  Faith, in western Christianity is an irrefutable definition by which we believe the right things. Faith has no bearing on the way we live our lives from day to day.

I would also argue that the same is true when we throw around the etherial concept of “trusting in God.”  Quite often we assert that we are to trust God’s will.  Yet in our way of defining that trust, we load all responsibility for the condition of our lives on a God to whom we believe will intervene for poor me, taking away the duty I have as a follower of Christ, to ACT for good in this world.  Moreover, we often say things like, “we need to trust God and avoid distracting ourselves by trying to figure it out on our own.”  But, what does a statement like that really mean?  Are we to assume that making a conscious decision to believe differently is really going to smooth out all the wrinkles?

What if God is hidden within our struggle to figure things out?  Disengaging the critical thinking centers of our minds, whether trusting God or not, seems to be a step in the wrong direction.  Furthermore, if we step back and make an honest assessment of ourselves,  isn’t it true that we inevitably decide to heed certain things and avoid others, taking one path over another?  So, why is it that God isn’t allowed to work in our struggle?  There are so many instances in which our fixation on an intervening God freezes us in complacency.  The best we can do is sit and wait for him to do his stuff.  When, I would argue, there’s something sacred happening all the time and it’s a waste of time to sit and wait.

As I reflect on this post, it’s difficult for me to accept the fact that what is most likely happening is that as I work through all these difficulties, I am probably projecting my own insecurities onto people around me.  I’m upset with the way things are, and so I point the finger at someone else because it’s much easier to do that than to make the necessary change in my own life.

That being said, and unfortunately, as I’ve said many times before, I aim to live differently.  There’s a song that says something like, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin through.”  This world may not be my home, but I firmly believe that God, however we want to understand him/her/it, has a desire for us to join the sacred work that is already happening.  I believe I have been given the opportunity to make this world what it is intended to be.  No longer will I believe that is true, but I will LIVE like it’s true.

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Sense

August 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Question.  Does, or should, your faith help you make sense of the world in which you live?  I’ll see if I can pose a few more questions and maybe a couple thoughts to at least clear a path toward my thinking…

Here’s a basic question to start off.  Basic Christian thought is that since “the fall,” humanity has been in a continual downward spiral of destruction and is in need of a cosmic mechanic.  Now, does that make any sort of sense in the world we are living in today?  Don’t get me wrong, there are horrible atrocities that can be associated with human participation in evil, but I would venture to say there are just as many, if not more, amazing strides we’ve made in the human race.  I am partial to the idea that you’ll find what you’re looking for.  For example, if we constantly look for evil, sin and fault in everything, we’re sure to find it.  This is an especially frightening notion when we mirror this idea alongside conventional Christian thought.  What are we most known for?  Outside of a few token good deeds, we’re pretty good  at spreading guilt and judgement suffocatingly thick.  So, back to the original question, does this pitiful view of humanity we’ve traditionally held onto make any sense in the world we live in today?  My view, not particularly.

Here’s another thought.  We are living in a scientific age.  We have witnessed some pretty amazing discoveries and advances in technology in the past two or three decades.  Now, remember I still hold to the idea in scripture that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God, but hear me out.  Most everything we understand about how the world works can be defined in scientific terms.  Isn’t it kind of ridiculous for us to try to use the Bible as a piece of science?  Here’s what I mean.  Science, as we know it, has really only been around for a couple hundred years (give or take… I’m not sure the exact number).  Regardless of the exact starting point of science, we must realize that the Bible was written long before anyone started thinking in scientific terms.  It was not written as a text book.  It was never meant to be used as a text to educate us on the fundamentals of the origins of life and the beginning of everything we know.  It’s an oral tradition of a narrative that just happened to get written down at some point along the line.  It’s a story that likely records actual events, but it’s foolish to use it to either prove or bash scientific theories.  In doing so, we are forgetting something Jesus said, “you must be as shrewd as serpents…”  Please don’t hear me saying the Bible is not important and it’s time to toss it out, what I am saying is that we’ve got to engage our brains, not just claim, “it’s the way we’ve always done it, and that’s final.”  That kind of thought makes no sense in the world that we now inhabit.

This was a question posted as one of our good friends’ status update on facebook: Is what is moral, moral because God commands it, or does God command it because it’s moral?  I think this is a great question.  My answer would be yes.  I think when we take time to pick away the residue of over 1500 years of christendom, morality is ultimately defined by God.  I would also argue that there are very moral people who don’t know or claim God.  Does that make them any less moral, I don’t think so.  I would agree with one ancient writer who offered that the Gentiles unknowingly follow God’s law because it’s been written on their hearts as fellow image bearers.  Some food for thought…

I say all this as a challenge, really to myself, to engage my brain.  It’s time to ask questions.  It’s time to participate for a better world now.  If our faith can’t help us make sense of the world we live in now, no one else is going to want anything to do with us or our phony religion that’s holding out for a mansion in the sky with a gold paved driveway.

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