In life, we often find ourselves at a crossroads. We can feel lost, struggling to decide which way to go, but the reality of any intersection is that a path must be chosen and this clip from Castaway sets the scene for us today.
In chapter 18 of the book of Luke, Jesus asks this question:
"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith in the Earth?"
Anth honestly reflects that the crisis he has faced and continues to face, is not over faith, but is a crisis of beliefs.
We have a human tendency to obsess over our beliefs and then rigidly enforce, promote and defend them. When people don't comply with our dogma, we then judge them and believe that our god is judging them in the same way.
"God made man in his image, and man has returned the favour." Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The way we talk about prayer can reveal a belief that God is unwilling to help people and needs us to plead for help before being willing to lift a finger for us.
"What the heck is going on in the heart of God, if it needs the rest of the world to pray for the Ukraine, for things to go well with them?"
Whether it's the areas of prayer, "Praise & Worship", Heaven, Hell, The Bible, Salvation or Judgement, we must ask whether our beliefs have pulled God down to our level.
"I think we press towards a rational ascent to the truth, in the form of certain mental beliefs, rather than pursuing a calm and hopeful trust in God, who is always trying to find his way through the imposition of our narrative onto his story, to make his presence felt in our story.
We somehow came to presume that by a set of confirmed beliefs, we can corral the divine essence into the finite realms of our human understanding and thereby exert control over a kingdom that he said was his and his alone, into which we have been invited, and gradually, the God who inherent in all things, we separated from most things, to be present in only our truth, our tribe and our story."
Life is complicated, messy and mysterious and it's easy to try to make it more manageable with formulas, thinking that if we just conform to a system and follow "The seven steps to..." that we'll get the required result. In reality, each of us must have our own journey and that journey must be from a hunger for truth and not a defence of beliefs.
In a story about the Hebrew patriarch, Abraham, God tells Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father's house. These three dimensions represent three areas of influence that Abraham needed to leave behind.
Abraham's herdsmen started arguing with his nephew, Lot's, herdsmen because there wasn't enough space and they were both occupying the same ground. This serves as a metaphor for us of how a dynamic faith and the beliefs of our past cannot occupy the same ground. It’s what invariably happens when we try to take with us that which we probably should have left behind.
We have to leave our out-dated beliefs behind.
The disappointments, disloyalties and difficulties of life can lead us to a place of doubt. This is an uncomfortable place to be, but can we cannot embrace new revelations until the ideas and beliefs we hold dear are deconstructed.
"Doubt is not our enemy. Doubt is a catalyst for change."
With doubt comes uncertainty, with uncertainty comes insecurity, with insecurity comes fear and with fear comes fight or flight. Most of us either run from the truth we're seeing or fight the truth we're seeing. But without doubting our current understanding, we'll never grow beyond it to find a love beyond our current perception, that introduces hope beyond our current expectation, that initiates faith beyond our current belief.
In Psalm 46:10, the Psalmist writes: "Be still and know that I am God."
Some of us have feared stillness and silence, and we live in a society that offers us new ways to fill the silence, but it's only in silence and stillness that we find the secret of knowing who God really is.
"The inherent danger of belief is that it can become so rigidly fixed and defended that even truth can't penetrate it."
Many have made the Bible an instruction manual, when it's meant to be a dialogue of pilgrimage. Our quest for truth is sacred and ongoing.
"It is unanswered questions, not unquestioned answers that build faith."
To commit to faith is not the same as committing to a set of beliefs. Knowing does not create faith, knowing creates belief. Faith is an attitude of acceptance of not knowing.
Unknowing creates faith and yet that faith then creates a kind of knowing. It's the paradox of the spiritual journey. In the void of not-knowing we may ask "Is it God at all that asks this of me or circumstance?" The answer of faith is this: "It doesn't matter. You don't know now and you may never know. To not know in the context of faith is to remain humble and teachable which is what belief tends to rob us of.
"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard
In the message version of Proverbs 12, Eugene Peterson writes "Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around."
Maybe we only arrive at the intersection of faith and belief when we experience the trauma of disappointment or some other life-threatening event.
We began with the question: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith in the Earth?"
Unless there are people who engage in the physics of the Quest, the answer is probably "No."
Physics is all about the forces at work in any situation and the quest is what QChurch is all about! Our quest and questioning community is important because God is a mystery to be explored, not something to be confined and defined with rigid beliefs that we can comprehend.
"The problem with our spiritual journey is that somewhere along the path to finding spiritual wholeness, we became drug-level dependent on written words and prescribed formulas as the measure of all things, rather than what John in his gospel described as "Word-made-flesh."
Belief is a product of the mind. Faith is a product of the spirit.
The mind interferes in the process of faith more than it contributes to it.
To have faith in the worst of times will requires us to silence or at least quiet the mind.
"Faith is what happens when our beliefs run aground, so if you're not willing to let your beliefs run aground, you'll never walk the path of faith."
Over, through and in it all, these three remain: A Love that conquers all, a love that is because of who we are, not inspite of who we are; A Hope that transforms our expectations and a Faith that convinces our inner being that all will be well.
"I may not be able to answer the question "Will Jesus find faith in the Earth?" but I can answer the question "Will he find faith in me?"
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