Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More on Simplicity

Thanks to Daniel for his comments in the post below.

I listened to a radio show yesterday talking about "Intelligent Design". The person being interviewed (Dr. Hugh Ross) was a Christian believer who believed in an "old" earth (vs. a 6,000 year old earth like some Christians believe). It was an interesting discussion. But there were some callers who were very resistant to the idea of an old earth. You could hear in their voice that their faith was threatened by this man and they needed to defend it.

I thought the discussion was a good example of how believers often complicate faith and thus, make it exclusive and irrelevant. If I was a non-believer listening, I'd think... "This is an interesting discussion - all these different ideas about how the earth was created, by Whom and when. Hmmmm, I never thought about that. I wonder what role God - if there is one -played in all of this." But as soon as the faith defenders called in my attitude would change. No longer is it a discussion, it's fearful people wanting everyone to think like them to make THEM comfortable. They don't want their world shaken. They don't want any variables, just absolutes. That would turn me off and make me change the channel.

When believers make things complicated, unbelievers check out. They don't want to be a part of the pettiness (and neither do I!). I think that's why the apostle Paul said that he kept things simple...he focused on preaching "Christ and him crucified" (in 1 Corinthians 1). He was saying that we don't need to add things to our message to make it interesting. Jesus died to bring us into a fresh relationship with God. Period. It doesn't get any better than that. Don't jazz it up. Don't dilute it with your personal agenda, i.e. when the earth was created, once saved always saved theology, end times speculation, gifts of the Spirit controversies, etc. etc. Just enjoy God and share this news with others. If you want to explore how the world was created, etc. knock yourself out. But don't confuse these issues with the message of "Christ and him crucified." You'll do more damage than good.

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.