Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Ivory Cubicle | American Faithlessness

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." -Blaise Pascal

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of Americans have never stepped out in faith.

In fact, it’s become a bit of a national virtue to completely lack faith. The hard-nosed scientists who occasionally peek their head out of their field to offer sage philosophical wisdom tell us to stick to the facts and cut the God-talk. Government bureaucrats inculcate in us a soul-deadening risk-aversion, making sure that everything we do is safe, secure, and sterile. Our life-planning experts tell us to craft a 10 year plan, usually in a career that has been carefully chosen to secure us a ton of money, because money is a security blanket which helps us pretend that our life is ours and that we have control over it. Never mind the fact that I've never seen a 10 year plan survive first encounter with the will of God.

The church, ironically, has become one of the havens of faithlessness. We often sit back in our churches and listen to wonderful missionary stories about the active manifestation of God’s power in some third world nation. Our souls well up with awe-inspiring wonder, and we acquire a sudden urge to leave this country behind and fly somewhere else, we want to go to that other place where God is actually working. We go on short-term missions trips where we genuinely, deeply feel God’s presence and we come back talking about the power of God over there and how we wish that we could go back to that other place where he’s active and present.

Which simply belies the fact that we have never entertained the possibility that such things could happen here. Well, maybe they can't. After all, Christ couldn't do any mighty works in Nazareth (Mk 6:5-6).

I've often wondered what would happen if God came to us like he did the Old Testament prophets. I mean, can you imagine Hosea pitching his story to his mom? “Well mom, I’m going to go marry a prostitute,” and then later “well, mom, my wife left me and got caught up in a prostitution ring, so I'm going to go buy her back.”

Or what about Abraham? The man takes his son up a mountain to sacrifice him, reasoning that God could bring him back from the dead. About that point, I could see a lot of us going, “wait a second, pretty sure this isn't God talking. There must be some mix-up in communication. Maybe I'm actually being tempted, after all doesn't Satan disguise himself as an angel of light? Yeah, that must be it. God GAVE me this son, after all, as a child of promise, He definitely wouldn't mess up that plan after He's led me to this place of happiness and contentment, right?”

Now I'm not discounting the importance of testing spirits to see whether or not they're from God, and it is definitely true that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. But I think that there's a difference between genuinely seeking discernment and using Scripture as a smokescreen to avoid stepping out in faith. Time after time, Scripture demonstrates that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man. It can't be put in a 10-year plan, it isn't safe, and it requires a little bit more than hard-nosed scientific analysis to figure out.

I wonder what it would look like if the modern church acted like the 70 that Christ sent out (Lk 10). What would happen if we became disciples of our Lord, and then, when we received the call, obeyed with no money, no food, no sandals, but simple, childlike faith?

Posted by Nick Barden
Image: The Leap of Faith from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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