Thursday, August 29, 2013

Questioning your Faith

[I would love to share with you an article I contributed to this week's Algona Upper Des Moines newspaper. Enjoy!]

Two years ago I took a leap of faith; I boarded a plane to come serve at Algona First United Methodist Church. Outside of childhood visits to relatives in Cherokee, this would be my first taste of Iowan living.

Combines? I could not pick one out of a John Deere line-up. Plants? I was thrilled when plants grew in our new garden even after being told most were weeds. Sports? I quickly learned that a “Hawkeye” was more than just the name of a Marvel comic book character.

Honestly, I felt a little nervous stepping onto that plane. For reassurance I peeked into the cockpit to ensure there was a pilot. I double-checked the city listed on the ticket. I imagined what I would experience in Iowa but until I moved, I would never fully know.

Photo Credit: Kuster & Wildhaber Photography via Flickr

Think how unsatisfied I would have felt to remain in the airport, perpetually stuck collecting travel data but never departing. Or, on the other extreme, consider the absurdity of boarding a plane that is clearly missing a wing.

Is faith so different from that airplane? We can study it from a distance but until we try it out for ourselves, important answers will elude us.

For example, the Bible is silent on many issues: Should we genetically engineer our food? How many dates should a couple go on before getting married? Mac or PC?

The Bible gives us principals but it is up to us, through experimentation and faithful discernment, to transform knowledge into wisdom.

I used to be scared by these unknowns. I thought that if I worked for a church, people expected me to have an answer for every question. Then I learned to trust 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.” (NRSV). I learned that there is an important difference between exhaustive knowledge and sufficient knowledge. Some mystery is okay.

This is wonderful news and honestly, it is why Christian faith is so dynamic. Since God’s goodness, mercy, and justice are infinite, we will never stop discovering aspects of His love. As theologian Oswald Chambers shares, “The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not the answer.”

This “approach” to faith is bigger than trying to be good enough or guaranteeing where we will go after we die; instead it is an active, daily relationship with Jesus, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NRSV).

I want to encourage you today: if you are unsure whether Jesus is truly the Son of God then that is okay. Take a chance. Let God know that you have questions but are willing to take that first small step towards Him. God promises, "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7 NRSV).

If you already have a relationship with Jesus then where are you holding back? Step out of your comfort zone and lean into mystery, knowing that God will be with you every step of the way.

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