Hard to Believe

Our Lenten look into Mark’s gospel ended on a note of astonishment and confusion. The women who go to the tomb to care for Jesus’ dead body find an angel there instead, with news that Jesus is alive again. It was hard to believe, and even harder for them to share.

circle of hope, philly, philadelphia, Jesus, love, hard to believe, eastertide, churches, church, radical faith, non-denominational, non-denominationWe’re moving with that reality—that faith doesn’t necessarily come through being confronted with facts and evidence and information. There is so much “information” out there that it’s hard to know what to believe, from history to news. Some sources can be helpful, but most of us need to go a little deeper to get to our deeper questions. We need to relate with the living God, spirit to spirit. We need revelation.

Revelation may be more available to us than we know, and we do find Christ in each other. So for the next six weeks in our Sunday Meetings we’ll air out some common questions and faith hangups together, like Can I be a Christian and believe in evolution? What’s with all the violence in the Old Testament? The institutional church seems suspect to me—why can’t I invent my own faith system? Did God really create hell? Can I be into God and not Jesus? Is Christianity really as sexually repressed as I’ve been told?

I suspect we will come up with some good answers together. But mainly I hope we discover that our intellectual barriers to faith don’t need to keep us from being part of the movement of God in the world. Even truth-seekers don’t need to have everything cognitively worked out in order to have a spiritual life and make a difference. Dostoevsky, the great Russian writer, was in that boat, and here’s what he says about his struggle with faith in Jesus:

“It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt. I want to say to you, about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dreadfully has it tormented me (and torments me even now) this longing for faith, which is all the stronger for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives me sometimes moments of perfect peace; in such moments I love and believe that I am loved; in such moments I have formulated my creed, wherein all is clear and holy to me. This creed is extremely simple; here it is: I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, more manly, and more perfect than the Saviour; I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but that there could be no one. I would even say more: If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.”

We may not all come to such “conclusions.” But I hope we have the opportunity to consider our experiences with God and the ways that God is being revealed to us. It is an exciting time to move with God and to explore the possibilities even in the questions. Ultimately what counts is the way we are able to be and act in the world (faith expressing itself through love!) so how we have everything organized in our heads does not need to preclude us from being a part of God’s work. 

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