Believing That Which is Hard to Believe

I’m troubled at the increasing reluctance of Christians to believe that which is hard to believe.  In the name of relevance, open-mindedness, or (insert reason here), more and more of my fellow Christ-followers seem eager to turn away from positions that rub people wrong.  “Hey world, you know those ideas and teachings of ours that bother you, that make us seem old-fashioned, irrelevant, out of touch?  Well, good news!  We don’t believe those things anymore.  Come give us a second look.”

Please understand, I’m glad to see Christians thinking about how we are perceived by those who don’t share our convictions.  In some areas, like our tendency to blend faith and politics, it has led many of us to some much-needed course corrections. But I’m concerned that we are taking this idea too far.

The core of our faith will, by definition and by Scriptural affirmation (see 1 Corinthians 1:21), appear to be foolish to those who do not embrace it.  By most standards, it is beyond bizarre to think that my response to the brutal crucifixion of a Jewish Rabbi two thousand years ago will determine my eternal destiny – yet that is THE central tenet of our faith.  If we are unwilling to believe the hard things, sooner or later the hardest of all, the gospel itself, will fall by the wayside.

So I embrace some of the hard things of my faith:

  • I believe that God created the universe out of nothing, simply by speaking it into existence, and that He did so in 6 days.  Yeah, He is THAT good.
  • I believe that He created a literal man and a literal woman and placed them in a literal garden, where their pride led them to violate the only constraint He placed on them, and condemned them and their descendants to serve the worst god of all –  themselves.
  • I believe that the Bethlehem night was pierced by the cry of a baby whose mother had never had sex, and whose arrival signaled the beginning of the most incredible rescue mission of all time.
  • I believe that this baby grew into a man who was God in human form, proving His identity by healing diseases, controlling the weather, raising the dead, and walking on water.  That’s right, He REALLY walked on water.
  • I believe that His execution was the culmination of God’s plan to show His love for rebels like me by taking our punishment on Himself.
  • I believe that the lungs that stopped breathing, the eyes that stopped seeing, and the heart that stopped beating on the cross suddenly and miraculously resumed their normal functions three days later.
  • I believe that this same Man will come back to us some day, as He promised, and make things right.

Does my confidence in these areas (and many others) exist in a tension-free state?  Can I embrace these convictions without other questions arising?  Of course not.  I have lots of questions.  I always have, and I probably always will.  But my inability to resolve every tension, and answer every question, will not cause me to abandon my belief.  Wouldn’t it be arrogant of me to assume that God would only do that which I am capable of understanding?

When my girls were little, I sometimes had to respond to their questions by saying “Honey, I honestly can’t explain it to you – you’ll just have to trust me.”  They were too little to grasp what I would have needed to tell them.

God is big.  I am little.  It makes sense to me that I would not be able to understand all of the nuances and complexities of His plan.  In fact, it would worry me if I DID understand it all, because I would wonder if I had reduced it so it would fit into my mind.

Sometimes, I just have to figure out what He has said, and trust Him.  I have to believe that which is hard to believe.  And I’m OK with that.  I hope you are, too.

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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16 Responses to Believing That Which is Hard to Believe

  1. Len Smith says:

    I believe too. Great post, Mike.

  2. Deanna King says:

    Thanks for that faith-bolstering post, so excellently written. Walk on!

  3. Faith O says:

    I enjoyed your post this morning…so true, so profound, and so challenging. Thank you for the reminder that we might never understand His ways, but we can always choose to believe He is sovereign…and that not always knowing provides me opportunity to relax in His grace… and believing that “His ways are higher” then my mind can comprehend invites me to let go…I’m so thankful that He surpasses all human understanding…it means He’s always got control over all things..therefore I don’t have too…. rather I can restfully wait on Him….

  4. Kim says:

    Great post as usual, Mike. We all have questions and this is a great reminder that we don’t need or shouldn’t expect to know all the answers.

  5. Bobbie Davidson says:

    Mike,

    Good thoughts especially after a week working with Muslims. They didn’t seem to water down their belief in the Koran.

    Wondering what caused you to write about this?

    When you referred to I Corinthians…my mind went to yesterday. Bruce took us to Ancient Corinth for a guided tour (by him) referring to both books of Corinthians. Wow! What an afternoon that was!

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

    Sabbath Thoughts wrote:

    Sabbath Thoughts posted: “Im troubled at the increasing reluctance of Christians to believe that which is hard to believe. In the name of relevance, open-mindedness, or (insert reason here), more and more of my fellow Christ-followers seem eager to turn away from positions that “

    • Thanks for writing, Bobbie, and enjoy your last couple of days in Greece! This thought came to my mind on my last couple of Sabbath hikes, prompted probably by what I read and see happening in the Church, and when it comes to mind twice on a hike, I figure I need to write about it. Have a great trip home!

  6. Holly Rogers says:

    Great thoughts with which to start the day and so true! The Gospel is THE GOSPEL. If it is not so, our “faith” is meaningless. We are not called to a watered down version of following a good teacher – we are called to an unwavering commitment to the Explicit Gospel, as Matt Chandler refers to it. Otherwise we are “wasting our life” (as John Piper states in his treatise). Thanks Mike!!!

  7. Vicki Burns says:

    Really enjoyed reading this, so I went back through your archives. I’m excited to follow your blog! Thanks to Katie Walker for posting the link on FB. I remember you from long ago at GBC. May your day be filled with Him!

  8. Man of Styrofoam says:

    Very nice MIke. Thanks.

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