6/21/16 Chris about 30
I have learned to go out of my way to intentionally start gospel conversations, so I crossed the street to speak to a man out walking his dog, asking if he wouldn’t mind an interesting question – “What happens after this life?” It turned out that he, Chris, is an atheist for an understandable but ironic reason. Understandable because he works as a medical technician in a children’s cancer ward. He simply can’t believe a God could exist who would allow children to suffer the way he sees every day. In his words, to try to figure out God’s purposes is just “too complicated”. It’s far easier, he said, to just believe that life is totally random and meaningless. I find that ironic because usually the complaint of atheists about people of faith is that we are too simple, just looking for an easy way to explain what we don’t understand. I appreciated his honesty. He added that he thought the life of a Christian must be very difficult, yet admirable, as we try to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves.
But I don’t think being a Christian is meant to be complicated or difficult. Jesus taught that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light”. In comparison to those who would attempt to earn a right relationship with God through religious rituals or good works, simply trusting in Jesus’ work on the cross is easy, though it costs us everything. But might it be complicated? Surely God’s purposes and intentions in a world full of suffering and injustice must be complicated, infinitely complicated in fact. Of course we can’t begin to assume we can know God’s intentions through all the circumstances of life. But for Chris, the complications begin with his assumptions about how we can know God in the first place. He assumes we must “figure God out” in the same way we learn about other things in His creation, through trial and error and the scientific method, and that we need proof the same way science requires.
But there is another way to truth than our own logic and intellect. Revelatory knowledge. God doesn’t expect us to figure Him out but reveals to us what He wants us to know about Him and His purposes and about our purpose in this world. He reveals Himself through his actions with His people throughout history in the Bible, teaching us by directly informing us and indirectly as we observe how He has interacted with others. He guides us as we prayerfully seek Him. And here’s the key on why I don’t think Christianity is meant to be complicated – what He doesn’t reveal to us, we don’t need to know. That’s why faith is what pleases God, why trust is essential to a right relationship with Him. He is God and we are not. We don’t have to have all our questions answered. He is sovereign and good – a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Let us rest and find peace, joy even, in that truth.