Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sometimes when you leap out of the fish bowl you land on the floor

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16

The Atlantic has an article this month about the New Atheism, and what drives people to denounce a belief in God, because the large precent of them started out in Christian homes and then either drifted or leaped out of faith.  And over and over again, after a few stabs at pretending it was science or reason that drove them, it turns out to be so-called Christians that caused them to doubt. Not so much an over-focus on politics or social issues or unleashed prejudices or the usual suspects. Rather it just seemed that the Christians themselves didn’t really believe what they said.  

It seems to the unbelievers that if those who choose to be called by His name really believed, every single moment of every single day would be a full court press loving people, declaring the name of Jesus, speaking of hope and grace. Not mostly the same old, same old, and by-the-way, yeah, I go to church.

The researcher ends his article with a little story about David Hume, the humanist: Sincerity does not trump truth. After all, one can be sincerely wrong. But sincerity is indispensable to any truth we wish others to believe. There is something winsome, even irresistible, about a life lived with conviction. I am reminded of the Scottish philosopher and skeptic, David Hume, who was recognized among a crowd of those listening to the preaching of George Whitefield, the famed evangelist of the First Great Awakening:"I thought you didn't believe in the Gospel," someone asked.

"I do not," Hume replied. Then, with a nod toward Whitefield, he added, "But he does."

I watched a movie Monday night, Father of Lights, about a bunch of Christians who do indeed live their life with conviction. Every single morning, every single moment of the day, it is clear that their listening ear is cocked for the Father of Light’s gentle prodding.  And sometimes they fall flat on their faces. At least that is what it looks like in the running camera of short shots. And I am still trying to figure that out.  But maybe that is the Pharisee in me.  Like being given some pretty big over sweeping Love Commandments and feeling the need to break them down into tidy outlines and tasty recipes and if/then statements. Especially tidy. I like tidy.

And it’s really hard when the knee hurts worse after they pray for it than before.  But there is without a doubt something winsome, even irresistible, about this life of conviction. And without a doubt, I do know that He is at work and that I have seen and held and been a part of miraculous restoration against the way things should go as dictated by the Laws of Physics. Either winding down or spinning outward. But sometimes there isn’t the expected restoration. Now. In this moment of time which binds me and my understanding into knots.  And I don’t get it. And I think, Hey, God I asked for a fish and You gave me a stone. 

So even though I don’t have neat tidy alphabetized boxes to organize God and How He Works, this is the direction in which I am stumbling.  In His direction. I mean, only crazy people ask for a tender aching heart. Because I do not want to live in a small quiet bowl of water in the windowsill just waiting for food and air and to die. And I am willing, at least in the Spirit (Lord, I believe; help my unbelief) to make bold proclamations and wait for the fall flat on my face moment.  (I guess that’s where He wants me anyway, flat on my face.) Again and again, to leap out of the boat. 

“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to You on the water.”

“Come,” He said.