Lay down under the night sky. Stare intently at the stars. Did you know some of the light you see is a ghost, the echo of something dead? Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. That means we can watch the last breath of life of a star that died ages ago.
Our own Sun is a yellow dwarf, among 100 billion other stars in our Milky Way Galaxy, and our galaxy is among more than 100 billion other galaxies in the observable universe. Starting to feel small? Starting to at least get a glimpse of the vastness of everything?
And yet...you matter, we matter, our lives matter.
Psalm 139:13-14 reads,
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Though fearfully and wonderfully made, we are still finite beings pondering an infinite Creator. The vastness creates wonder, and within wonder we are driven to hope...or doubt.
Hebrews 11:1-3 says,
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."
Every single person, regardless of their beliefs, makes a claim about the unseen with varying degrees of certainty. We all place a wager with a certain amount of hope.
The atheist asserts there is no God. The agnostic says there's probably something out there. The person of faith says there is a specific god(s).
I think it's fair to say these are the most common positions you would come across: atheist, agnostic, religious.
Can we all agree, to some extent, each of these positions requires an element of the unknown? I would even go so far to say the "unknowable"? We can explore the depths of science and theology and still barely scratch the surface of what's knowable.
Most scientists would say if you shrunk our expanding Universe back into it's original state, you would have a point we refer to as the Singularity. It contained all the building blocks of our Universe. Pretty intriguing, right?
My point, though, is that even the most informed theories about the Singularity and The Big Bang only go back on the timeline so far. There is a point where no one even knows how to theorize...what acted on the Singularity, why did it happen, where did the Singularity come from, etc.?
When we look at the Christian faith, we can read the Bible and the accounts of what happened. We are looking backwards at the recorded history of the Church. We are reading about something that occurred thousands of years ago. There is a point where we have to admit, we hope this is true. We have plenty of questions that cannot be answered.
(Disclaimer: I'm not pitting science against faith, saying they're mutually exclusive concepts, nor implying that atheist is synonymous with scientist, etc. More on that in a later post...)
So why does it matter? Why bother?
Because every position of hope controls the way you live your life. Every position of hope informs the paradigm through which you view and interact with the world.
When I look at the life of Jesus, I see the mysterious face of what we call God. I see purpose. I see meaning. I see powerful changes in the lives of His followers. I see sacrifice. I see redemption. I see grace and peace.
And I'm compelled...
I'm drawn in by a magnetism billions have felt toward Jesus over the years. Not because I can prove it, not because I have all the answers, not because I can make a series of fact claims, but because that hope leads to experience unlike any other.
I come to the idea of God through faith, which we've identified as "assurance of things hoped [not known with certainty] for, conviction of things unseen."
I don't need certainty to inspire me to action in the name of God. I don't need a physical resurrected Jesus standing in my living room to be inspired to be like him.
Anne Lammott said,
"The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty."
Certainty actually destroys the exciting pursuit. The scientist isn't most intrigued by what she already knows but by what is yet to be discovered. It's the fascination with mystery that drives us forward, and it's the precedence of those who have gone before us that gives us a framework for operating.
I think faith in God is similar. We can stand on the shoulders of the Church and her experience, and we can continue to dive into exploring what that means for our lives individually. We can swim in the deep ocean of Mystery.
It is so refreshing to finally start feeling free these days to try to simply live a life like Jesus, despite the unknowns, uncertainties, and doubts. As a result, I glimpse a reality once invisible to my skeptical heart.
My challenge for you...
You have your own position of hope, and you have the life you're living. What do each say about the other?
Books I recommend: