Thoughts on Christian faith here.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I want to be real with God. I want Him to be real with me. I am so all done with perpetually effervescent charismatic caricatures gushing the latest gift or revelation. I can’t comply with the rank and file of brittle, painted saints, stuffed with a thousand minor pieties and doctrinal dissections. Perfection is and never really was an option. Best I can muster is honesty and a constant diet of repentance.
I think there are phases of growth in our personal understanding of God. Stages to practical theology, if you will. To use a contested term, I think we evolve in our understanding of him, his Word, and how to implement His reality in our lives. Truth and Reality are Objective, but we view them through the lens of our worldview. The clearer, deeper, more accurate, the better we can comprehend and conform to his will and his image. I parallel this to Astronomy and Mankind’s expanding understanding of the universe.
1. Primitive Phase: new convert stage. We think it all really revolves around us. Like newborns. We experience the love, the sense of purpose, personal intimacy, assistance, grace… That’s all true and real, but we filter it through an immature selfishness. We acknowledge God’s Sovereignty, but in practice, we get upset when it’s not all about us.
2. Copernicus Strikes: Given some time and disappointments, we bump into enough hard facts to recognize we are not the center of the universe, God is. What do you know, Rick W was right: It really isn’t all about us – it’s about Him. We admit God might love us but doesn’t spoil us. He truly is the Eternal and Sovereign God, far above all Principality and Power, dwelling in unapproachable light. Amen.
That said, we still demand order, structure, certainty in our religion. And not just confidence in the Person, Principles, and Promises of God, but in our day-to-day values, attitudes and applications. The cloister or gated-community mind-set, we expect perfect spheres to revolve around our faith in perfect circles. As Christians, we insist our marriage, our jobs, our kids, health, family, church, ministry… all move from glory to glory in an ever-escalating testimony to the Abundant Life. (TM)
Here’s where Classic confirmation bias kicks in. We tailor everything those expectations, discarding what doesn’t conform. It’s safe, predictable, certain… but it’s also small and inherently false.
3. When the Dark Matter hits the Fan: Given a peculiar combination of time and circumstances, everyone gets Black Hole and Hubble Revelations. Light gets sucked in. Gravity hits like a runaway freight train. Your conceptions get shattered. The Universe is a big, scary place – Really big and really scary. It’s not at all what we thought and we’re very, very uncomfortable.
We discover yes, there are laws and principles. Yes, there is a vast, complex harmony that keeps it spinning. But there are ellipses, apogees, perigees, anomalies, deformities. Gravity, light, time actually change in strange relationships to mass and each other. They aren’t constant and perfect and uniform. The universe is mind-blowing, frightening, so much bigger and stranger than any one, or all of us.
But this is actually the God who saved me in the first place. This vast, complex, confusing, Creator, Sustainer, Sovereign and Savior. He hasn’t changed. I have. Even more humbling; he’s been waiting for me to get to this precipice. After all, He brought me here. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith.
Time to start believing that.
Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. – 2 Tim. 1:12