Believing Is Easy?

I met with a guy today who is in the process of returning to the Christian faith.  That’s how he thinks about it.  That’s how we often conceptualize it.  A process.  Laborious.  Time-intensive.  Nerve-wracking.  Uncertain.

Why is that?

As with many people, he talked about wanting to know that God was really there for him, that Jesus died for his sins.  He was raised in the Church and wandered away from it as so many do.  Now he wants to come back.  Wants to find God.  But God hasn’t gone anywhere, and coming back to church is easy – at least as easy as forming any new pattern of behavior.  So what is it that we’re getting at when we talk about the process of coming back to the Christian faith?

I think this is where Luther’s Small Catechism can be so helpful.  I take it for granted, having been raised in the Church, never having left it.  It’s so simple and easy. Elementary.  Creed. Commandments.  Prayers.  Sacraments.  But to someone who hasn’t had these things, who abandoned them, they become anchors.  The means by which the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith in Jesus Christ.

I don’t think it’s a matter of wanting to have faith and then waiting to see if the Holy Spirit gives it.  You hear the Gospel.  Do you want to believe it?  Do you have anything keeping you from believing it?  A particular doubt or issue?  No?  Then great!  Believe and act on that belief every day of your life!  If there’s a particular issue keeping you from faith, then you need to deal with that issue.  Figure out if it’s really something that keeps you from believing or not.  Find out if it prevents you from belief and acting on that belief, or whether it’s something that you hope to find out an answer to someday but it doesn’t prevent you from believing.

Most of our daily lives consist of doing things that require faith and trust.  I have faith when I get on the freeway that the other drivers are going to do what they’re supposed to and we’re all going to get to our destinations safely.  Or at least I am.  This despite the fact that over 35,000 Americans died last year in traffic accidents.  I still persist in my belief that I will get to my destination safely.  I act on that belief multiple times a day.  My life is at risk every single time.  Yet I believe.  I get in the car, turn on the ignition, put on my seat belt, and pull out into traffic.  Not even statistics can cause me to waiver in my belief that I will arrive safely.  I might not, but I certainly assume that I will.

I suspect that this is the essence of faith.  Not a process, but a grasping hold of the promise of Jesus.  Trusting that it is true and just as importantly, acting and living as though it is true.  I really am forgiven.  I really do have hope.  My life really does matter.  So does yours.

 

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10 Responses to “Believing Is Easy?”

  1. JP Cima Says:

    Getting on the road in the US doesn’t take THAT MUCH faith. Wait until you test the roads in the Nammer. Now, THAT’S faith! ;)

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      Contrary to my generally confident nature in driving, I’ve never driven outside of the US, except for moped and autos on Vancouver Island, Canada. Nam may be the first place that I’m *afraid* to be a passenger!

  2. Steven Hoyt Says:

    so, there’s no skin off your back of there is out isn’t a place called china, because, meh, no reason to believe or doubt.

    great, but if that’s the comparison you want to make with why one ought to believe in christ, then it isn’t because christ is important at all but instead, because in terms of impact and mattering in real life, it’s an insignificant idea.

    now, is THAT really the analogy you had in mind?

    • Steven Hoyt Says:

      “off your back of there is or isn’t …”

      bad text gesturing.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      Hi Steve. My analogy wasn’t intended to be one of equivalence in terms of importance, but rather a demonstration of how we believe things all the time, oftentimes on far flimsier evidence than the Biblical witness. I think the second one about driving and traffic is probably stronger, particularly in the aspect that it *does* matter a great deal in real life, every single day. I think I’ll edit out the China bit. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Steven Hoyt Says:

        problem is with traffic, who cares what you believe? what will be will be. I’m that case, you imply what matters about belief isn’t whether or not it’s true, but whether or not it makes you feel good, even despite facts (such as statistical significance and so forth).

      • mrpaulnelson Says:

        I’m beginning to think I suck at analogies! Time to go back to the drawing board!

      • Steven Hoyt Says:

        LOL.

        nah. the best take away i found is tucked neatly away toward the end. faith, in terms of metaphysical propositions, are believed exactly in that, because they’re worth believing, we “act as if” they are true.

  3. With More Thought…. | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] to Steve for pointing out some of the weaknesses in my argumentation a few days ago regarding belief.  True enough, what I said sounds a lot like the common argument […]

    • Paul Says:

      Trusting that something is true and acting like it is true are related but not identical. Trust indicates a rationale for the action. I can trust that a tree branch will support my weight because I saw somebody else hanging from it, or I know that the tree is young and strong. To assume that any tree branch can support my weight could be very dangerous, despite the fact that I find my assumption validated several times.

      Christianity differs from other metaphysical systems in that it provides a solid, concrete, tangible event upon which to determine the trustworthiness of the faith. The life, teachings, actions, death, resurrection, and ascension of a man 2000 years ago who claimed to be God, and claimed that his life and death and resurrection meant something to me, personally. No other metaphysical system provides that grounding point, that reason for trusting that it is true, for acting in faith on more than just wishful thinking.

      It’s possible that a system would be “worth” believing in because of short-term benefits (more loving family, gentler society, etc.), but if the system makes any long-term claims, then I need more than the short-term benefits in terms of grounds for my faith. Not all metaphysical systems are equal. They might all be false, but they certainly can’t all be true, and it is possible that one of them is true and the others false. Believing in a metaphysical system that is false would therefore be not ‘worth it’, if there is one that is true and should be believed instead.

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