“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Hm belong, they are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.”
Many people have questions about faith, about Christianity, about Jesus, and about His followers. And the fact that the Bible may provide an answer to some of these questions for many people it is not as simple as “because the Bible tells me so.” Many people don’t believe in the authority of the Bible so “because the Bible tells me so” means as much to them as “Because the Chinese fortune cookie tells me so.” And this is not just for the non-believer.
There are many people who do not follow Jesus because they cannot overcome their doubts. For many Christians, people who truly love Jesus and try to follow His ways, they too have doubts. The simple response of “Because the Bible tells me so” doesn’t necessarily cut it. There are still more questions than there seems to be answers. Questions such as:
-Why is God so violent in the Old Testament?
-Is it fair that we are judged for eternity for such a brief time here on earth?
-How can God be good and send people to hell?
-Why is God so hung up with people’s sexuality?
-Why do Christians believe that faith in Jesus is a requirement for entrance into heaven?
-How do you reconcile the Bible and science?
-How do we know the Bible is really God’s word?
-Why is Jesus the only way?
-Why do bad things happen to good people?
-Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?
-Why do Christians who don’t live a godly life get a free pass but unbelievers who live a godly life don’t get in?
– Aren’t there a lot of mistakes and contradictions in the Bible?
-Why are there so many different churches and denominations if they all are supposed to believe the same thing?
For many years I tried hard to answer questions like these with a simple, black and white explanation. Everything needed to be clear and neatly put together. I feared that if I did not have the right answer or a satisfactory response then I was in some way failing God. I needed to defend Him and the Bible against any attack or seed of doubt. But then, a funny thing happened on my way to defending the faith…
I started to ask some questions and couldn’t get clarity or agreement on some of the answers. When I thought about it there were some things that I couldn’t get my arms around:
-Did God really create the whole universe in six, 24 hour days? I always believed He did. We calculate our 24 hour day by the rotation of the earth on it’s axis in relation to the sun. But the sun wasn’t created until the 4th day, so how were days being calculated on days 1-3?
-The portrayal of God in the Old Testament seems, on the surface, really different than the way Jesus acts in the New Testament. How can these two be the same being?
– I grew up with just one understanding of the book of Revelation. But what if the book of Revelation had more to do with corrupt governmental systems than the end times? (You will have to wait until my sermon series on the book of Revelation that starts on February 4th to see where I go with that one).
I have discovered that God calls us to faith, not correct belief. He is not waiting to give us a multiple choice test that we need to ace before we can be His disciple. We are not called to be certain but to be faithful in the midst of uncertainty. Vibrant faith accepts mystery and embraces the difficult questions not as signs of weakness but as pathways to trust the God who is much, much larger than we are. If we have all the answers and can explain every question posed, then why do we need faith? Faith is the opposite of certainty but is built on the loving experience of relationship. The closer I grow in my relationship with Him the less certain I need to be in having the right answers.
God does not need me to defend Him; He is quite capable of defending Himself. He would rather I sat in conversation with Him than that I go around defending a six day, 24 hour creation. (I am not saying it didn’t happen in six days…God could create it in one minute…It just doesn’t matter to me any more whether it was six days or six thousand years.)
I try to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. I want to be as faithful to Him as I can be because I believe that God became a human and displayed the greatest act of love on the cross. I believe He died and then rose again and through His life and death and resurrection began the initiation of His kingdom into the world that continues until today. I believe that. I trust it. I trust Him and believe that He will lead us into all truth. I cannot prove it. I cannot present concrete evidence. But, like a child, I see with the eyes of faith.
Next Sunday I will attempt to answer a few of these challenging questions and then throughout the year we will have “Got Questions” Sunday. I will invite us into the mystery of not knowing, of seeing not with the intellect but with the spirit. I will invite us to believe in the dark what we have received in the light. Because that is when it matters most, right? When life is messy and the road is cluttered and the way seems long. We draw from the deep well of faith. It will be fun and engaging, challenging and motivating. I am certain of it.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?