Based on that passage in James 2, I previously wrote that faith is “to act out of genuine trust in God. To believe in God is not merely to acknowledge that he exists, it is to actually believe God—to do things that make no sense unless what God says is true.”
I’m also a huge fan of these definitions:
Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
—St. Augustine, Sermones 4.1.1
Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.
Last month I posted a letter that my friend sent me in response to a blog post I had written called Gay Marriage And The Resurrection. In it, he brought up a handful of questions directly and implied several others that I believe need answering. However, since those questions are bigger than the issue of same-sex marriage, and since they’re far from the only God-related questions out there that deserve answers, I’m starting this new series. And I’m starting off with a question that I believe is at the heart of everything else:
This week has been a roller coaster. There’s been an abnormal amount of baby / kiddo stuff going on with some amazing Christian families in my world. One set of friends gave birth to their first baby, a beautiful daughter, after being in labor for a scary (for me, anyway) crazy-long time. Another set of friends is still fighting in prayer for their not-yet-born son who has his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice. On top of all that, a coworker had to take his son this weekend to have brain surgery. It went really well and they’re on the way to recovery, but seriously: Brain surgery.
I can’t emotionally put myself in any of their places. I can pray, I can celebrate the victories, and I can sympathize to an extent, but it hurts too much to try to imagine fighting for my child’s life like that. I just can’t go there.
However, there’s also been something bothersome that keeps popping into my thoughts; something subtle that always sounds right but feels uncomfortable. It’s this idea that there is some easily repeatable formula for success that we should adopt. And it usually takes one of two forms:
You know what absolutely drives me crazy? Christian bloggers who use their blogs as platforms to refute, call out, and/or defame other Christians publicly. Everybody thinks they’re Jesus calling out the Pharisees in the temple or Paul correcting Peter in front of the Jerusalem Council.
Well, you’re not. And neither am I. So let’s all just stop it already. Mmmkay?
This doesn’t mean that I think we have to be passive and tolerate bad theology or heresy. It doesn’t mean that I think we shouldn’t use our blogs / platforms to boldly proclaim truth. But I absolutely believe we should give each other the benefit of the doubt, for the love of Pete, and take time to make sure we’re using our words intelligently and from a heart of love!
So here’s my attempt to set the record straight on some words that are close to my heart in a way that is both honest and gracious.
I have no idea what you think about people who claim to hear God. I mean, I know what some of you think (Mom), but I don’t know everyone who reads this blog. Maybe you think everyone (or at least most people) who claim to have “heard God” are crazy. Or maybe you’re the crazy claiming to have “heard God.” Hmmm…
I’ll just lay my cards on the table. Let your judgment fall where it may: I hear God pretty regularly. Or, at least, when I am listening. And sometimes when I’m not.
I have this 100% unprovable and totally nerdy theory that, after Jesus rose from the grave (John 20) and before he ascended into Heaven (Acts 1), he went back in time and made a handful of appearances as “the Angel of the Lord,” setting into motion the events that would lead to his miraculous birth in a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, J.J. Abrams-can-kiss-it, brain-exploding, real-life, history-altering plot twist.
Maybe it’s just an angel sometimes. Or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit. Who knows? But I (and a bunch of theologians) think that when the Angel of the Lord shows up, it’s likely Jesus. His appearances include some of the most famous stories in the Bible:
Commissioning the cowering Gideon as a “mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:11),