"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Traveling to the Far Side & Surviving with Faith Intact

"I would not give a fig for simplicity
on the near side of complexity."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes,
former chief justice of the United States Supreme Court

In his book Primal, pastor Mark Batterson suggests that we have made Christianity overly-complicated whereas Jesus was able "to simplify complex spiritual truths in unforgettable and irrefutable ways." Writing with the desire that we get back to the simplicity of what Jesus taught and the "primal essence of Christianity", Mark reminds us the most important thing is not the Law, not the Prophets, not Tradition but this:

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark12)

This book was written with this goal and I feel it's great timing since not long ago I was wondering how exactly do I love God. Remember this?

I've been wrestling with the idea of God as a force, an energy, a spirit since I have a hard time relating to loving something that is not human or not able to be seen. In my mind, I picture God a certain way even if He's just a pure white "man" covered with clouds and brightness. It's difficult thinking of him without human qualities and features! How does one love a force? How does one love the universe (if the universe is God for instance)? Does Jesus put a human face to God and this is why Jesus said, "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father"? source

Mark starts off great from the first chapter. I really liked this.

Many Christians settle for simplicity on the near side of complexity. Their faith is only mind deep. They know what they believe, but they don't know why they believe what they believe. Their faith is fragile because it has never been tested intellectually or experientially. Near-side Christians have never been in the catacombs of doubt or suffering so when they encounter questions they cannot answer or experiences they cannot explain, it causes a crisis of faith.

For far-side Christians, those who have done their time in the catacombs of doubt or suffering, unanswerable questions and unexplained experiences actually result in a heightened appreciation for the mystery and majesty of a God who does not fit within the logical constraints of the left brain. Near-side Christians, on the other hand, lose their faith before they've really found it.

Simplicity on the near side of complexity goes by another name: spiritually immaturity. And that's not the kind of simplicity I'm advocating. God calls us to simplicity on the far side of complexity. For that matter, He calls us to faith on the far side of doubt, joy on the far side of sorrow, and love on the far side of anger.

Good stuff, isn't it? Can anyone relate to how she has journeyed through the hard stuff (doubts, fears, sufferings, storms) and come out on the far side of complexity and it has strengthened her faith? Or maybe you are still on the near side and haven't had the doubts and sufferings of life so your faith hasn't been tested. Do you still only know what you believe or have you come to know why you believe it? How many have traveled to the far side only to have that "crisis of faith" Mark mentioned? How did you handle this crisis of faith? Did your faith remain intact, grow stronger, weaker or did you abandon it for another or nothing at all?

(quotes from pgs. 3-6)


Jasmine said...

Hey Suzanne, Cool blog - I'll stick a link to you so we can keep in touch....
Peace! Jasmine :) xx

Susanne said...

Jasmine, thank you and welcome! Glad you are dancing again! :)

Unknown said...

It is good stuff. I'm in a weird place, hopefully journeying toward that far-side. I don't know what I believe but I know why I believe it? :D That probably makes no sense if you're not in my head.

Love, though. Love is good, and it's the core of my experience. That's why I keep coming back to religion and don't think I'll ever just drop it and become an atheist. I know I have a relationship and love God even if I don't understand what God is. As far as I'm concerned at this point, if I never figure that out, that simple truth is enough.

Susanne said...

Sanil, I always enjoy your comments so thanks for dropping by.

"I don't know what I believe but I know why I believe it? :D That probably makes no sense if you're not in my head."

And that's perfectly fine. I find it cute and understandable somewhat.

"I know I have a relationship and love God even if I don't understand what God is."

Maybe we aren't supposed to know WHAT God is exactly. Maybe doing so is putting God in a box. Check out the July 8th, "Rethinking Idols" post. I think you'd agree quite a lot with Debbie Blue. :)

Thanks much for your comment! Hope you are enjoying vacation and your mouth is feeling fine now that you've had those wisdom teeth removed. :)

Amber said...

'Do you still only know what you believe or have you come to know why you believe it?'

Both. Some things I know what I believe, but I would be hard pressed to be able to explain *why* I believe it, at least in any coherent way. Other things, I know what I believe, and why I believe it. Faith is a journey, so this entire dynamic is always going to be shifting.

Susanne said...

Amber, nicely stated. Yeah, there are some things I believe, but don't know how to explain them to others. They have to kind of "experience" (??) some beliefs for themselves.

Thanks for dropping by.