Sunday, July 03, 2005

Simple or Simplistic?

When I was 19 and a new believer, I remember having a conversation with my mom. She was disappointed that I had become like the "Baptists" from her home town. She saw them as being simplistic in their faith.

I remember defending my new faith to her. God wasn't complicated. He made connecting with him simple so no one would be left out.

Now, years later, I see that my mom and I were talking about two totally different things and we were both right. God has made faith simple. You don't have to climb a mountain or memorize a book to connect with God. The Bible says that our connection with God is as close as the word on our lips. When we invite God into relationship, he's there. In fact, he invited us first. He's just waiting for us to respond. It really is that simple. Jesus did the work and we receive the benefit of his work.

But although faith is simple, it's not simplistic. A simple faith does not reduce the problems of the world to cute cliches or sound bites. I think that's what my mom objected to - when someone became "born again" they seemed to lose the ability to reason and wrestle with issues intellectually. Suddenly, all of life's questions were boiled down to quoting the right Bible verse. You didn't have to think anymore, just get a good Bible reference to give you the right quote. It's no wonder my mom - someone who enjoys thinking things through - objected to what she saw in her home town Baptists.

But God never intended for us to commit intellectual suicide by being born again. In fact, when God's Spirit enters your life He should make your intellectual side come alive. He will give birth to new thoughts and new ways of thinking.

It's sad that believers often are guilty of checking their brains at the door of faith. I don't know where that came from but it's not what it means to follow Jesus.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Isn't it ironic that the Christians who should be known for the simplicity of their faith are instead known for their simplistic tendencies?
We have the unfortunate tendency to make our faith complicated (with our rules about right doctrine, right behavior, etc.), while thinking about everything else (political issues, relational issues, etc.) simplistically.
In Luke 11(:5-13), Jesus points out that human fathers, despite their shortcomings, are good to their kids, and so God, as Heavenly Father, is that much more gracious and giving to us. Jesus tells us that we barely even have to seek for God and he'll give us his Holy Spirit (which is shorthand for the motivating force behind his Kingdom--that place where we all live in communion with God).
God is eager for us to give our allegiance to him--or rephrased to tie this back in with what you said, Remy--he makes it simple for us to come to him! The world stays complicated (and so Christians owe it to themselves to be nuanced and well-rounded), but the Kingdom is simple. No wonder Jesus had so many sharp comments for the Pharisees who made everything so complicated for the common person!