For the record, this one will be a two-parter. I'll try and finish half tonight, and the rest later this week.
"Westward leading, still proceeding...to the world unseen." Roseanne Cash
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mk. 9:24
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Heb. 11:1
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about my faith...which I admit is pretty weak much of the time. I have often wondered why I still believe that Jesus is who he said he was. Why do I still choose to follow him? I have been greatly frustrated by God for months now. One would think that this is enough of a reason to tell him to "Get bent," and just walk away from the faith all together...but I don't. Why?
I have had many, many friends either reject the faith that they grew up with, or simply place it on some shelf in the basement closet and go on to do other things. I am rebellious, to be sure, but I keep coming back to Jesus, and they do not. Why? In fact, I recently had a friend tell me that he thought "God is an Asshole," and has left. I have often thought the same thing, yet I always seem to stumble back even though I rarely get a satisfying answer from him. Why?
Well, there certainly are numerous arguments to be made for why someone should not become a "Christian." Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, legalistic, etc., etc. In fact, for every reason you can give me for why you should not become a Believer, I can give you five. Heck, I've been burned by so-called Christians so many times now that I have lost count.
I look at what passes for "Christianity" in America and I get the dry heaves. This passified, neo-paganized brand of evangelical mush that has sold out to secular Right-Wing politics on one side, and on the other side has watered down the holiness of God until he/she/it is just a smiling Yoda that doesn't really care what you do, and will just sit there with a senile grin??? Yeah, I don't really have any desire to have anything to do with that, thank you very much.
The funny thing is that Jesus never told us to have faith in other people who call themselves "Christians." He told us to have faith in HIM. So many people fall under the sway of a charismatic pastor or thinker...and then get burned when they find out that this person is just as fallen and imperfect as they are. Jesus told us to have faith in HIM. So many people get locked into one narrow strain of theology that they lose sight of Christ and end up worshipping a theological/mental idol. Jesus told us to have faith in HIM. So many people end up placing their faith in their works...either intellectual constructs of Orthodoxy, or social justice Orthopraxy, that they end up trying to earn grace. Jesus told us to have faith in HIM.
In fact, when it comes to the idiotic displays of so-called "Christians" being legalistic, judgmental and hypocritical, Jesus never said to walk away from the faith because of that. He said, "Don't BE like them"...and to have faith in HIM.
I could give all sorts of rational & historical proofs for the truth of the Jesus of the four Gospels. Seriously, there is enough evidence that pretty much puts it all beyond a shadow of a doubt if you take a truly honest look at it. But the fact of the matter is that proofs and evidence really mean very little in the end. I have met far, far too many people for whom truly objective evidence means nothing.
Last night, I was listening to a radio interview and discovered that a sizable amount of people...if not an outright majority, from India, China and S.E. Asia simply do not believe that the U.S. ever landed on the moon. Not to mention the fact that millions of people in the Muslim world still do not believe that Al-Queda attacked the U.S. on 9/11, even though Osama bin Laden bragged about it on Al Jazeera. Heck, tens of thousands of people still believe the Holocaust never happened.
No, objective facts do not rule the mind of a human being.
You WILL believe what you WANT to believe.
So what determines what you really & truly WANT?
The Heart rules the Human.
I have been around long enough to know that this is absolutely true. And it IS true that you will ultimately find what your heart is looking for.
Rob is right. There IS plenty to be cynical & skeptical all around us...and not just about Christianity, either. Whatever it is that you set your heart upon, you will eventually find it.
I would argue that over the long haul, some things you set your heart upon might be a lot less rewarding than others.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish & harmfull desires that plunge men into ruin & destruction...some people, for the love of money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs..." 1 Tim. 6:6-10
Rough Translation = "You can't take it with you."
So invest in things that echo in eternity.
I set my heart to find hope, hope that there was more than what I saw around me. I wanted MORE than what passed for temporary pursuits. What I got was faith, faith that there was a love that I could not comprehend...mostly because it is beyond my limited understanding of what "Love" is. This in turn opened my eyes to pain of this world, and it's suffering. I could not comprehend everything I saw around me...or this one who was showing it to me.
But it did give me faith, faith that Jesus IS. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see," says the writer of Hebrews. I still have that faith.
I mentioned many times in previous posts that I often ask God to kill me while I sleep so I can get out of this joint and into his presence. I mentioned that to my Dad a week or so ago while we were out picking raspberries & tomatoes in the garden. I couldn't help to also mention the irony to him that while I ask God to take me out, I am picking all of these fruits and veggies so that I may can them and distribute them as gifts for Christmas & birthdays over the next 12 months.
It would appear that while my mind my have one desire, my heart has another.
And that is because that even when I am at my worst, I still have faith. My heart went looking for it, and Jesus captured it. He still holds it. I have rebelled and spit at him, but he still holds it. I have been faithless in word & deed, but he still holds it. I am a sinner, but he still holds it.
I have nothing to offer to this king but a broken and contrite heart that is weak, dirty and undeserving. But on that day, when I move westward into the world unseen, he will hold it still...very still
I still believe...
because my heart is in someone else's hands now.
I do not see him very often.
I am confused more often than not by him.
But my heart?
He still holds it.
I still believe...