Friday, March 21, 2008

Faith and Flowers


One spring a few years ago our back yard was suddenly full of wild violets, and they've returned each spring since. Nice for someone like me who is into wildflowers.

I keep thinking about faith and how to define it--how to know what it is and what it isn't. Since a friend of mine has recently abandoned the faith, I'm paying much closer attention to what the scriptures actually say about faith.

One thing I've recently noted is from the book of James--that somehow, poor people are more likely to have faith than rich people.
James 2:5 Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith

The context of this verse, is James scolding his readers who are giving preferential treatment to the wealthy folks in the congregation. He is urging them to treat everyone the same, and furthermore, he says, the poor are more likely to have faith in Christ than the rich.

Wow, that doesn't make much sense, does it? But when I was pondering this, I started to analyze who the rich and the poor are. My conclusion: the poor are typically less educated than the rich. Is that a coincidence? Maybe not. Maybe the more we learn, the harder it is to believe?

That thought took me on to another: What about Christian apologists? You know, people who collect all the evidence that God is, that Christ lived and died and rose again, and, and, and. WE LOVE TO READ THOSE BOOKS! We love to have our faith confirmed by hard facts.*

But wait--if we have hard facts, then what about faith? This is one thing I'm puzzled about. If a Christian apologist can make such a great case for Christianity, then what is the role of faith? After all, it doesn't take faith to accept something that's been proven--it just takes common sense.

The best I can sort this out at the moment is that God provides a few "facts," (things about Christianity that are historically provable), but not enough of them such that every human being would have to accept them. That is where faith comes in and that is why faith is part of the picture. A very big part of the picture, in fact.

I'm going to keep thinking about faith.

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*Please note, I'm not intending to say anything negative against Josh McDowell. Nor am I saying it is bad to be educated. But it does seem to be that faith for an educated person is somewhat of a different animal than for a non-educated one.

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

I've never been very satisfied with the "if you had proof, it wouldn't be faith" argument. If faith was just a matter of believing something because some book says so, who's to say that what I believe is any righter than what you believe?
I tell my non-Christian friends that it doesn't take any faith to believe that Jesus Christ lived, died, or rose again. There's better evidence for all of those things than there is for many of the historical events and people recorded in our history books. We don't call people who study history "faith-filled" to believe what they read; we call them educated. In the same way, I don't see any particular virtue in just believing Jesus died and rose again. Scripture says even demons know that much!
No, faith is choosing to trust that God-man with your life. You can believe that a particular doctor is a wise, skilled man with a great track record, but unless you take the medicine he prescribes, you have no faith!
My personal opinion on why the poor have more faith than the rich is that the poor have less to depend on. If God disappoints the rich, they have the money, the resources, or the connections to get what they want some other way. If God disappoints the poor, there's no way out.