How often has a well-meaning Christian said that? "Don't overthink it, just believe." I find that statement simplistic. Which is why the Christmas story is so encouraging.
In the Christmas story, we have one of the most famous Christians admitting the math doesn't add up. When the angel appeared to Mary to let her know what was about to happen in her life (literally!), her first response wasn't, "Great! I'm so excited for this!" Her first response was, "How can this be?"
The dots weren't connecting for her. Many can relate to this. I can relate to this! Christianity clicks with some people quickly. For others, it's a slow process and that's OK!
So if you are in that place of trying to figure out how Christianity works and fits together, let me encourage you with Mary's experience. The first time she heard it she wasn't getting either. But let her example be a model for you. Instead of closing herself off to Christianity, she remained curious.
The way to make progress is by asking questions. Seek out more information. During my 14 years of pastoral ministry, these kinds of conversations have been the most refreshing conversations I've had. So ask away!
I’ve been working my way through a book, that for me, is the best book I’ve read in 2017. It’s entitled, This is Our Time, by Trevin Wax. It’s all about helping us spot the longing and the lie in every story society tells. In one particular chapter, Wax camps in the arena of politics.
It’s a quote from Peggy Noonan that grabbed hold of my attention. “For more and more Americans, politics has become a religion. People find their meaning in it…When politics becomes a religion, then simple disagreements become apostasies, heresies. And you know what we do with heretics.”
Exhibit ‘A’ in politics as religion can be seen in the disparaging remarks made of those who disagree; those who occupy opposite sides of the aisle. It gets downright nasty. Politicians love to burn the "heretics." But Noonan’s observation isn’t just apropos of politics, but of anything.
Whatever I derive my meaning in life from, will be my functional ‘god’; my true religion. That might even be a worthy cause. And in fact, in most cases, functional gods begin as worthy causes.
I remember, several years ago, an individual approached me about wanting to start a ministry in the church where I was a pastor. It was a good ministry idea. However, 99% of people don’t understand the complexity of running a church, particularly a large one, and how even one “simple, user-friendly, ministry” can actually compound our challenges, divert resources, and make ministry even more difficult than it already is. Our leadership team said ‘no’. War was declared. Tongues as sharp as swords were unsheathed and unleashed in a series of parries and thrusts.
A worthy cause had graduated into a functional god; a true religion.
Consider what happens to people who crown their causes as ‘kings.' They become nasty when someone crosses them or doesn’t take it as seriously as they do. Crowning our causes as ‘kings’ turns us into animals.
God didn’t wire us to find vitality this way. The only way to remain fully human is to crown Jesus king. Jesus must be your cause!
As we continue our journey through the Bible at Alliance Bible Church, we pause briefly to review where we have been in Genesis Chapters 12-50 (explained with illustrations) and consider once again the faithfulness, providence and sovereignty of God.