Friday, January 1, 2010

Fact versus Faith ...

There are very few absolutes in the world around us. We can scientifically verify the existence of gravity by its affects on us as we attempt to defy it. We can measure the force of gravity, and then ascribe the measurement in ‘weight’. And since everyone has a personal familiarity with the concept of gravity and its effects, we begin to accept gravity as an absolute truth. But for example, if you tried to examine the great number of things in your life you take for granted as truth, you would find little absolute proof of any of them.

Take your name and parents for instance, are you really certain your name is what you have been brought up to believe? Could it have been different on your birth certificate? How can you scientifically prove your birth certificate is accurate? Could it’s authors have been lying about certain facts? Was the hospital notary in on the deception? Could you truly be the product of another entire set of parents but simply taken at birth? You were too young to know, so how do you scientifically prove something that happened before your cognitive memory? Ah yes, the good old DNA test, we can get one of those now and clear all this up (at least we know we were not stolen at birth). But DNA does not verify the truth of the documentation associated with your birth. With some work at it, we could round up witnesses, get copies of corroborating documentation, talk to the doctor who delivered us, etc.. At some point we would have enough support to believe the truth we know, but it would take work, and in some rare cases may never be proven scientifically. Is it any less true, without the science to support it?

If you use the name you have been brought up to believe is yours, if you answer to it, if others know you by it, then it is a truth, even if it conflicts with paper signed long ago. At some point each person chooses to be known by the name they validate, if they are not happy with the one they have, they change it. The point here is that some truth is simple enough to believe in, without a ton of scientific data to back it up. That presumption of truth is called faith. In order to have faith, you have to trust the person(s) you put your faith in. It does you little good to put your faith in something random, unknown, or unfamiliar. You may ‘bet’ on someone else’s good nature, but that can hardly be called having ‘faith’ in them. Faith and trust then are in separable. And with faith, you may be able to believe in the truth of something without all the science behind it, and sometimes even when what you look at, tells a different story.

Most people who support evolution as the basis of our origin, believe Christians to be using a ‘weak’ argument whenever they rely on ‘faith’ in the absence of scientific fact. Yet the ‘science’ of evolution requires a great deal of ‘faith’ as it cannot answer many pertinent questions either. When science lacks the answers, it is rationalized as ‘undiscovered’. But when a question regarding God comes up, any response of ‘faith’ is deemed as na├»ve blind obedience. I suppose the reason for this is a fundamental lack of trust in who our God really is, and what He is all about. Consider for a moment what we believe about our God; that He is good, and that He wants only good for us; and that we are free to choose for ourselves. Given this, we are not slaves, because we choose to serve Him. This is not forced labor, it is labor based in love. Given God’s intentions for us, we can trust in Him, to ALWAYS look out for our best interests (even if they conflict with our own wisdom).

I love the example of Abraham in scripture who is touted as having great faith to leave the land of his father, for a land he had never seen, based solely on a promise from God. I love how at age 100 he finally has the son he was promised by God to populate the earth like the sands of the seas. But most of all I admire the relationship Abraham had with Christ, that he was so close to Jesus, they actually talked to each other. Abraham knew it was God, when God told him to take Isaac to sacrifice him. Think about this for a second. God was telling Abraham to commit first degree murder of his only son, as a sacrifice to Him. At the time ONLY pagan / heathen gods demanded such child sacrifice, and these rituals were always STRONGLY condemned by God. Yet here He is, asking for the same thing. I would have freaked out, and refused to accept this was really God talking, sounds way more like Satan to me than God. But Abraham knew the voice of God first hand, had followed it all his life, and did so again, hoping against hope God would withdraw his request. Not until the angel stopped Abraham from actually committing murder, did God stop this ‘test’ of his faith.

We have such a hard time believing that God will follow through on His promises to us. And so we ‘help’ God by taking care of ourselves financially instead of sharing our money back with him. We protect ourselves from the world, by keeping away from homeless crazy people who need us, but might hurt us while we sleep. We avoid dangerous places like prisons, soup-kitchens, shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes for fear of our own mortality. And we think we follow God in faith. How much ‘faith’ does living this way really require? Is that why we don’t give our faith a good work-out like we do our bodies? We play it safe all the time, risk little or nothing, and learn to trust little at all.

We couch our prayers for the sick in weak words like “but let it be according to Your will” as if it would ever be God’s will for someone to suffer or die. We suffer and die from our own choices, and from the effects of evil on others. Why not pray boldly for healing instead of just comforting the loved ones? Is it because we don’t want to give ‘false’ hope to the sick; with our weak faith perhaps the hope would be false. I say instead we boldly ask God for the miracles He wants to pour out on us. Stop hiding behind weak words, and ask God for what we really want. Let Him say no, if He does not want to grant our request, but let us make the request in faith with power. In faith that KNOWS God wants to pour out His healing upon us so we don’t even have room to receive it. This kind of faith takes trust. It’s risky to call out for God to help and put the attention on Him to see if He does.

Faith then is not the last resort of those who lack scientific proof of their beliefs; rather it is the first thing we look to in any situation we face. We rely on our faith to bridge the gaps in our knowledge, not because we have NO knowledge of God, simply because we may not yet have a complete knowledge of God. We add faith to our reason, and to our personal experience with God, and in so doing, faith grows. As we witness the results of trusting God, we constantly prove His care and goodness in our lives. Once you begin to KNOW what God does in your life, your faith starts a fire inside you, that no man, and no evil can ever put out. This becomes yet another avenue of a life altering experience. Our discovery of God and His true character and intentions makes us stronger still. Our incredible weakness and unworthiness, covered in a blanket of love that changes the core of who we are.

Of course this kind of faith is not something to play with kids. Once you get infected with trust like this, and see results like this, you will catch fire like you can’t imagine. You will not be able to shut off the spickett once that channel gets opened up in your life. Once this gift of faith God puts in your heart starts to bare harvest, watch out. You may just single-handedly change the world, not you per se, but God working in you and through you…

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