if faith isn’t a challenge then it’s likely not God

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For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12

  • It’s more important that we struggle than we overcome, more critical that we journey than arrive, more meaningful to engage than subdue, more beneficial to be in the conversation than to be right.
  • When we demand glib or easy-to-digest answers for hard questions, we reduce God from transcendent unsearchable majesty to a second-rate deity we can easily manage.

Saturday, after an idyllic seven days, the weather here in Wake Forest was stormy, cold, wet, and dark.

In a word, miserable. In another word, perfect.

Perfect if you want to try out your new camera’s chops in rainy low-light conditions. Perfect if you want to spend the day working on the new novel. Perfect for contemplation.

Seriously. A pot of fresh coffee and my laptop, curled up in my favorite armchair, against a backdrop of wet darkness outside.

Be a Contemplative:

Back in the Middle Ages, people who did a lot of thinking were known as contemplatives – as in, “Hey, there goes George the Contemplative, he’s always thinking about something.”

Contemplation isn’t a frame of reference that is touted much in our twenty-first-century North American culture. We tend to be all, “Don’t just sit there, do something!” Whereas in some parts of the world the saying would likely be more along the lines of, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

So I tend to do a lot of that. I sit there, I think about stuff, and once in a while things begin to make sense.

This weekend I’ve been thinking about faith. Both my Wednesday evening men’s group and the guys I meet with Saturday mornings are launching a study of the C.S. Lewis classic, Mere Christianity. Lewis is widely regarded as one of the premier Christian thinkers of the twentieth-century, and I believe we’re all going to be challenged as we grapple with how best to approach the intersection of faith and reason.

One important idea that came to me today is the understanding that it’s unnecessary that we master, or completely understand everything about God. It’s more important that we struggle than we overcome, more critical that we journey than arrive, more meaningful to engage than subdue, more beneficial to be in the conversation than to be right.

If it isn’t a challenge then it’s likely not God:

Fact is, paring concepts down to ideas we can easily wrap our heads around often comes at the expense of substance. I had a Methodist preacher friend (arrogant but brilliantly effective) who told me that, “a lot of my colleagues are gifted in reducing their congregations to a manageable size.” The same happens when we demand glib or easy-to-digest answers for hard questions, we reduce God from transcendent unsearchable majesty to a second-rate deity we can easily manage.

My thoughts about faith today are like that. They are hard to manage, difficult to hem in, impossible to contain.

To be honest, if it wasn’t this difficult, this rich, this challenging, this meaningful, this important… then it wouldn’t be God I was contemplating.

By the way, I did take my new camera out in the rain, just to get a different look at the day. Sometimes I think I can see with more clarity in the dark….

– DEREK

 

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