Tuesday, July 19

Facts, Feelings, and Faith

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. --Mark 12:30

Blaise Pascal, physicist and mathematician wrote: "Faith is different from proof; the one is human, the other is a gift of God."

I believe that both facts and reason should have a prominent position in the life of a Christian. We need to have a firm foundation that enables us to explain to others why it is that we believe what we do. People who are earnestly seeking to understand what church and God are all about will not be satisfied if we answer most of their questions by simply saying "because of faith" or "because the Bible says so."

Likewise, for those Christians who have been exposed to church from a young age must go beyond what we learned as a child. God created us as thinking, reasoning, intelligent creatures. To know Jesus must involve some degree of understanding of his place in history. The words he used in his ministry to the people of his time are meaningless to us unless we are able to appreciate their original context. For some people that could mean going on an extended tour of the Holy Land. For those who don't have the means or opportunity for such a thing, there are plenty of books written by the people who have been there.

That isn't to say our understanding of Christ is to be purely intellectual or worse, a bookish hobby. Because God is a being not bound by the constraints of time and space, a relationship with him requires going beyond the physical world. Unless we are able to think with our hearts and not just our heads, we will never even come close to touching a piece of who and what God is. The very fact that I can't put into words how to do that goes to show how mysterious he is--and rightly so.

Somewhere between the facts and the feelings is where we engage in our relationship with God. There is nothing wrong with leaning more toward one end of that spectrum than the other, so long as Christ remains the center. Whether your relationship with God grows more when you feed your intellect or stoke the fire of your heart, remember to love him in the fullest capacity of heart, soul, mind, and strength.

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