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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does This Make Sense?

I have been pondering lately if my faith can be logical to those who don't share it.

In our local area, we have a weekly feature in the newspaper called "Ask a Professional." Various business leaders write answers to people's burning questions as a way to promote their business. One of these articles is always written by a local pastor, who attempts to take a major issue of faith and simplify it into three short paragraphs. I think he does a great job overall, but I am wondering if this approach really makes any sense.

Recently, I read a book called Resident Aliens, in which the authors bring up the point that Jesus wasn't crucified for talking about things that made sense to everyone. He was crucified because he so radically challenged people's way of thinking that they just couldn't handle him anymore. When Jesus preached, he didn't appeal to people's common sense and he didn't believe that if they just understood him they would want to accept his teaching. Jesus called people to become citizens of a kingdom where the values were completely upside down from what people knew. This kind of decision required repentance, conversion, and faith.

How often do I try to talk about my faith so it will make sense to other people? Do I really believe that if they "get it", then they will feel compelled to believe because it just makes sense? The letter of Paul to a church in Corinth reminds us that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing." The Bible seems to tell us that faith doesn't make sense- our spirits must be made alive and awakened by God. When we are drawn to Him, we must make decision along the way that don't workout logically in our brain, but somehow in hearts we know them to be true.

So, perhaps when we talk about our faith, we should not look for "understanding" as a good sign on the part of the listener. When our message is confusing, troublesome, and rejected frequently, then we'll know we're sharing the gospel in its truest form- the gospel of king a who died in shame as ultimate victory.

Journey on!
Nick

4 comments:

Britt said...

Being an extremely logical person, I totally get where you are coming from. I have often pondered if there is a way to make faith make sense to those who don't believe. But the truth is, when I look at my own experience, there was NOTHING logical about it. I truly, absolutely believe that there is a spirit element to it...that without God working within me, then I could have heard the same message over and over and over again and I would have still rejected it.

But this begs the question then, doesn't it? If God is CAPABLE of awakening hearts to Him and if He knows just what it will take to captivate us all, why doesn't He? Can you argue that He does and we reject it? This is what makes the whole evangelizing thing so difficult...we're told to be fishers of men, BUT it may not be "the time" God has designed. Then again, is there ever a time that God attempts to awaken the hearts of each and EVERY unsaved person?? Does God doom some to Hell because He never even tries to make Himself known? If God knows us inside and out, how does He justify doing that "thing" that makes some of us recognize Him, but not doing it for others? Or are some of us just NOT able to ever receive the message (no matter how hard God tries)?

O.k...see how my logical brain is running off the rails here?? In any case, I agree -- faith seems like foolishness to the unsaved. The story of Christ makes NO sense. I've seen it made fun of on numerous shows and I laugh right along with the canned laugh track...it does seem silly, doesn't it?? It's only when you accept this wild story as fact that any of it makes sense. It drives me crazy that the Holy Spirit keeps overriding my logical brain because I so desperately want it to make sense! I've finally accepted that there are things I can't logic out, and, ironically, those are the things I'm most at peace with. Doesn't mean I don't still have my logical questions though...

Pastor Nick said...

Good thoughts, Britt. I'm not sure if you realize it, but you're basically trying to solve the whole "Calvinist/Armenian" debate on a blog response. People have wrestled with this one for centuries, nigh, even millenia. (We should all use "nigh" more often.)

For me, I think it's important to stick to what I know, whether I know why or not. So Jesus calls us to fish for me, so I do. I don't know exactly why, or how he makes it all work, but I know that NOT fishing would NOT be an option.

Isn't it amazing how those things we DON'T truly understand are some of the best parts of faith? For me, it's the transcendence (God way above and beyond) and immanence (God right within us) of God. I don't get how He can be both, but I really rest in the fact that He is both.

Pastor Nick said...

Um, that should say "fish for men", not "fish for me". Although the second one is kind of humorous.

Britt said...

hehehe...Next time I land a big one, I'll be sure to leave it at your doorstep ;-)

I remember studying Calvanism in philosophy in college. Of course, at that time I wasn't a Christian so I just thought it was all silly anyway. The thing about Calvanism that stuck with me though was that Calvanists believed some were predestined for heaven, while others weren't, so therefor, you might as well just go ahead and live how you want because only God knew who was really getting in and who wasn't.
Anyway, I get what you are saying...we are told to go, so we should just do it whether or not it makes sense to us. For me, that's not the real issue because, as I saw in my own life, the seeds can be planted and just take time to grow. In my situation, those who took part in that have seen the results, but it doesn't always happen that way... And I know that part.
The part that gives me pause is that there are so many people I know and love who don't know Christ, and I fear for them. Why don't they believe? What can I do to help that happen? Has God just given up on them? Those are the sorts of things I wrestle with. So, to know that there is nothing I can really say (no logical way to "make" them believe) and that it's about God's timing for it, is kind of disheartening. My faith has to be that IF they ever come to know Christ then it will be the perfect time for the greatest glory of God. But if they die without knowing Him...well, where is the glory in that? I know, I know...I'm seeking to know the will of God and I'm too small and insignificant to "get" it. Probably why I have such a passion for evangelism :D