Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Foundations Of Faith

I was feeling like Peter a couple weeks ago. I was about to head out to Confirmation class at church when I read an article about a story that was breaking on Monday. It was about the alleged tomb of Jesus, his alleged wife Mary Magdalene, son, etc. ....and as I read the article I thought, "Wow..... that's stupid." ......but, to be perfectly honest, the entire drive to church I was thinking about it and worried about it. Yeah, worried. I'm not sure why, but I guess that my certainty over the historicity of the Gospels (and, by extension, the New Testament) seemed to be laid bare. "What if....?", I thought. ...."What if this was true, and they discovered some incontrovertible way to disprove the authenticity of the Gospels, what would I do then? Where would my faith be?" ...I'm sad and, actually, ashamed to say that for those fifteen minutes on the way to church, I was scared about my faith in God. I was afraid that I had made Him up somehow, that the miracles that He performed in Scripture were just fanciful stories meant to inspire people, and not an actual account of real events. I was afraid that everything I had come to know was wrong. Here I was, on my way to help kids believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ, and for fifteen minutes now I kept thinking to myself, "Wow... maybe I'm wrong."

....suffice to say, it was not a position I wanted to be in.

And so, Peter. Peter was out in the boat with the other disciples when Jesus came out to them on the water. And Peter, quickly realizing the connection between this story and "the loaves", asks Jesus to ask him to come to Him on the water. Jesus does, and Peter steps out on faith and walks on water.

He walked on freaking water.

.....though I didn't ask for it, this article- this stupid story that will be buried in a moment's time, with its unprovable claims and incendiary nature - this, to me, was asking God to ask me to go to Him on the water. Ye of little faith, why did you doubt? ....Why did I doubt?

What I came to remember was that all the historical evidence for Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection was not why I believed in Him. It may have bolstered my faith as time has gone on, but I don't believe in Christ because of the hisorical evidence presented to me. The foundation of my faith, the reason I believe in Jesus Christ, is because I'm alive today. I believe in Jesus Christ because at several moments in time, something unexplainable happened to me. I believe in Jesus Christ because I have felt His presence and His love. You ask me how I know He lives? ...He lives within my heart.

At Confirmation class that evening, we read Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 talks about all these people who lived their life by faith, suffering many hardships along the way. Here's the money quote: "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised." (Hebrews 11:39) The author here points out what might not seem obvious at first glance: all the great leaders in the Bible lived their life by faith even though they had no practical reason to do so. They lived their lives by faith and still did not see, even as they lay dying, what God had promised them would happen.

As I've mentioned before, I've been reading through the Old Testament a lot. Habakkuk was up recently, and I found this verse to be poignant:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” ~ Habakkuk 3:17-18

...even when there is no hope, Habakkuk is like the other Old Testament heroes - he trusts in his God, his Savior. That's how I want to live my life. I want to live knowing that I won't always understand and see the end goal. I want to live trusting even when it doesn't make sense. I want to work toward what God asks of me, even if I won't see the benefits of it. I am a life that was changed, and nothing can destroy that- just like nothing could change Peter, or Habakkuk, or the author of Hebrews.

They walked by faith. I want to as well.

You should read through the comments of that NYT article. They're fascinating... and sad.