Are you ever scared that you have it wrong, that God doesn’t agree with you?
This was a question I came across on twitter. It was tweeted by a Christian Youth Worker on her feed as one of the questions she had to respond to. I spent the first half of the night envying her, dreaming of being there to witness the prelude as well as the ensuing conversation. The second half of the night was spent considering how I would respond: putting in sensible ways the almost irrational notion of faith. How do you convey something so subjective in a way that resonates in the face of doubt.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,”
For a very long period of my life I believed strongly that faith was on the opposite side of uncertainty. That faith, my faith in particular, was set in absolute objectively verifiable facts which I could call up whenever doubt arose. The older I get however, and the more I study, the further away from the possibility of absolute certainty everything moves. Just as doubt is necessary for the continuity of the sciences, absolute certainty evades most of our experiences – enriching it.
How can one be sure of what is abstract (bound in hope) or certain of what they cannot see (far from proof). By definition then, faith isn’t the opposite of doubt. In fact doubt is almost necessary for Faith, any faith to be. The key to it all is the abstract idea of Hope. Hope is wrapped in trust and trust requires a reputation (Glory). Hope, being abstract, opens the resulting reality to all the probable possibilities so that, as with the initial question, I could be totally wrong about God in the end. Let’s interrogate this with an analogy.
My mother, note the ‘my’, is the greatest mom in the world. For the years I have been alive, she has nurtured me all the way from vulnerability to manhood. This doesn’t mean that when we sit to eat, the probability that the food she’s set before me is poisoned isn’t present. I have a hope, based on her reputation thus far, that the food is safe to eat. There is no absolute certainty here, just the assurance from faith in my mother that no harm will come to me from her. This hope/ faith doesn’t guarantee the outcome, it is – rather – a conclusion completely based on mine and my mother’s collective history – a reflection of her character so far.
If, however, I had a friend over, his ability to trust my mother will be solely based on my bias. He would have every right to check the food. Because she is not his mother and he doesn’t have an in depth knowledge of her character as I have (the primary relationship and the intimacy between my mother and I being a key factor affecting my assurance/ faith in her).
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ
The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.
The Message Bible
So where do my assurances about God come from? The come from the reputation of God, as illustrated across scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ. They come from the ongoing intimacy developing between Him and I by His Holy Spirit. They come from the crowd of witness to the Loving Nature of the Godhead. They come from the wide range of promises He has made.
His reputation has given me hope, and that hope has given me certainty – or faith rather (because even in the face of all that’s before me, I still doubt).
Think on this
Lord I believe. Help my unbelief
More musings later….
Feel free to comment or query.