Sunday, 22 March 2015

Believing is seeing

A friend of mine from Calvin College usually summarized any decision he made like this: "It's real simple." And then he'd proceed to give a lengthy explanation. So here's my attempts at using his template!

It's real simple. I don't want to 'write' to the choir anymore. I don't want to write 'eloquent' stories or commentaries and have hopes that people I know might 'like' them. I don't want to check how many people have read my blog, forwarded it, or shared it. For me - it has been too time consuming and I don't want my focus to be on the numbers - though web analysts will tell me different - and I've 'said' that I don't care about those things...but if truth be told...I do. And, if I was actually selling something, then it might be justified.

If I write, I want to touch someone's life in a meaningful way - not anecdotally. I want to be an extension of God's grace. Writing quietly in the background of life if that's where he puts me. Because if I try to manipulate life to my advantage, frustration always, and I mean ALWAYS ensues.

So if you have some time, I'll try to explain.

Would you ever search for something if you didn't believe it existed? After all, if it doesn't exist, then why bother? Why would this guy that I photographed on Myrtle Beach go through the expense of a metal detector (approx. $400) and a sand scoop (approx. $120), not to mention his opportunity cost (some ECON101 jargon for you), if he didn't believe he was going to find something of value?

For several days this past week I observed this guy (I'll call him Craig from now on) methodically combing the sand strip for buried treasure - maybe for a lost penny, quarter, diamond ring or an ancient coin washed ashore from the latest tide. Whatever he was looking for he was deadly serious about his search. The rubber boots, the long sleeves, a baseball cap, gloves, a small bag around his waist to store his treasures all gave Craig the appearance that he was on a mission and didn't want to be interrupted or delayed. By the looks of him, this was his job...not a week-end warrior in search of 'The Holy Grail'.

Had I another minute on the beach to summon courage I would have tried to ask Craig some questions - like what he considered his greatest find to be. I would also have asked him how he started his life as a 'treasure hunter'. Maybe Craig would have told me there was a long history of treasure hunters in his family. Or, he might have said it was because of someone he observed when he was aimlessly walking a beach in search of life's meaning one day. Whatever his story, I left wishing I could have asked him about it. And... I would have thanked him for the lesson he taught me. The lesson that believing is seeing.

You know that story in the Bible when the man said to Jesus, "I do believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24)? That's the point! Hebrews 11:6 says: "anyone who comes to (God) must believe that he exists, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." I think we spend far too much time trying to prove to others that God exists - thinking that we need to win them to Christ through our arguments and lengthy treatises - that we fail to show Christ in our own actions. Skeptics of Christianity have to believe that they are seeing a difference in our lives. And, if curiosity grows by what they see, then they might want to search for "the difference maker" themselves. In effect, they believe something to exist and now they need something more evident to remove their unbelief.

It's like a business handshake, a personal testimony or a spouse's wedding vow. I don't have empirical evidence to accept it as true, but I believe its credibility based on reasons that have earned my trust. If contemporary science tells us that God is not real because the naturalists say there is no hard factual evidence, then we (Christians) need to be the evidence that offers hope to the skeptic.

Of course, we can't rely solely on our arguments or abilities. Ultimately, it depends upon him and our love for Christ.  Joe Boot writes in Beyond Opinion, "Without love for Christ first and foremost - no matter how strong our efforts - we will be only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (1Cor. 13.1). May God deliver us from our pride and use us graciously in his mercy".

Thanks for reading...'til we meet again. It may be sooner than you think!

In the meantime, I'll be praying for a new approach to my blog...and for that one person who might say, "Hey, tell me more about this Jesus guy...he sounds interesting".

One more thing before I go... Thanks Craig. You have no idea!

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