A Bit of Humility for the Journey


Instead of complaining that God had hidden Himself, you will give Him thanks for not having revealed so much of Himself: and you will also give Him thanks for not having revealed Himself to haughty sages, unworthy to know so holy a God.

            Two kinds of persons know Him:  those who have a humble heart, and who love lowliness, whatever kind of intellect they may have, high or low; and those who have sufficient understanding to see the truth, whatever opposition they may have to it.

            Pascal, Pensées

I find it fascinating that in a faith, as complex and ambiguous as Christianity can sometimes be, there are people who are altogether too eager to claim that they have cornered the market on God.  Even more fascinating, and perhaps more disturbing, is the grand certainty with which people make claims about that God—who God hates, for instance.  There are people who can give you five steps to a better prayer life, eight steps to reaching the lost, three principles for ethical living, and ten days to a deeper faith.  There are people that are too quick with an answer to tough questions:  Why did my child die?  Why do I need to pray?  Why has Jesus not returned?  Why are there hungry people in a world that produces more food than it can consume?

For Christians, faith is paradoxical.  On the one hand, we find simplicity:  We were separated from God because of sin, and God took pains through Jesus to reconcile us to God’s self.  On the other hand, the way that that faith plays itself out in everyday life is vastly more perplexing:  How am I to live as a Christian in the context of a cut-throat business environment?  Are my loyalties to God or the country of my birth?  How do I cope with the feeling that God is somehow absent?  How do I hold love those who are different from me?

For those of us for whom it is not always possible to affirm that faith just “gets sweeter and sweeter as the days go by,” for those of us who don’t have the handy theological slide-rule that much of popular Christianity seems always at the ready to produce, providing a snappy answer to the faith’s toughest questions, for those of us for whom faith is oftentimes more a “Jacobian” struggle with God than a tender walk “to the garden alone,” we must remember that our job as Christians is not to produce trite sayings in the face of difficult questions, but to struggle together in humility toward the truth.

Humility and truth—it is next to impossible to find the latter without the former.  Perhaps the three most important words in theology are “I don’t know.”  Faith is an arduous journey, often through deep darkness, which frequently provides more questions than answers; it is not a sunny jaunt that requires nothing more of us than to memorize a few trite sayings.  Don’t be overly alarmed, though, because the journey upon which we embark has as its solace the fact that we do it together, hand in hand, with Jesus ever near.

 

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