“The cynic believes nothing at all.” — Soren Kirkegaard
2 Corinthians 4:18
Believing has never been the problem.
We believe in chairs. So we sit in them. Ever had anyone pull a chair out from under you as you sit down? A “friend” did it to me once, in front of a roomful of people. How embarrassing. Yet I still believe a chair every time I sit on one.
We believe in cars. Reliable ones, anyway. We place our precious bodies into them, not worrying if the brakes actually work. We simply don’t weigh the potentially catastrophic consequences of brake failure.
And we eat food, fully believing that it won’t harm us. Of course most American foods harm us in some way, but we don’t worry.
So what’s so hard about believing? Why don’t we always believe in our Maker? Why don’t we believe that we turned out just as He intended? That our circumstances and the events in our lives are first sifted through the hands of a loving Father? That He has us just where He wants us?
The Apostle Paul gives us a few hints:
“For we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For the seen is temporary, but the unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)
Or: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)
Aha, it’s those dadgum unseen things. We so badly want to believe in the unseen. But such faith eludes us.
Not all of us become cynics when it comes to God. As Soren Kirkegaard points out, experience is a mixture of mistrust and love. Now and then we are inspired to believe the invisible, or to mistrust even the visible.
Sometimes movies, books or stories help us out. We can envision going down Alice’s rabbit hole, or crawling through the wardrobe into C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, or taking the red pill and finding our way into the Matrix.
Somehow these stories resonate with us. We know there is something more than what we see. Mankind has sought it out since the beginning of time. He has invented gods and religions as a way to understand them.
While on Earth, Jesus spoke at length about the kingdom of heaven. He said that it was near (Matt. 3:2); that it belongs to the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3) and to the persecuted (Matt. 5:10); that those who practice the commandments will be great in the kingdom and those who don’t will be called least (Matt. 5:19); that you cannot enter the kingdom if your righteousness does not surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Matt. 5:20). And on and on and on.
Jesus wanted us to understand that his kingdom was the true reality, and that this world is a temporary shadow of that reality. So he asks us to believe. Then believing becomes our work.
What invisible things do you strive to believe?
How do we increase our faith?
Is God worthy of our trust? Why or why not?
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