Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Matter of Faith

We've been talking this week about being an anti-people, a people who consistently set ourselves against something. And yesterday, we saw that in a post-faith world where we believe ourselves capable of controlling anything and everything, we kind of have to. 

What is the alternative?

The alternative is real faith. Plain and simple. The alternative is truth, on which our Christian faith is based. The alternative is knowing that what we believe in and what we have in Christ is strong enough to stand on its own and doesn't have to stand against anything. 

That's hard. And it's even harder to believe something like that. 

We live in a world where we are expected to have to convince everyone. A world in which truth is relative, so we have to be able to persuade someone to see our side of things, to agree with us. This is a world in which we cannot just lay out objective facts and expect everyone to believe the same things about them that we do, even the things about them that are obvious. Especially now that AI is everywhere, tricking our minds into believing what we know is not true, we have to ask - what even IS truth and how are we supposed to get anyone to believe is unless we can tear down what they think they have first? 

If you pay attention to most of the arguments on social media, you'll see that a lot of them are not differences of opinion; they are differences of perceived truth. And they quickly spiral into each party trying to tear down the other's truth to convince them of the solid nature of whatever they believe. 

But the truth about truth is that if it is really truth, it will stand on its own. It doesn't have to tear anything else down; those other things crumble on their own when the real truth comes out. 

All that we end up doing by trying to convince the world of the truth is exhaust ourselves and alienate others, because we come across as a very defensive people and truth doesn't need a defense. It is its own proof.

Take the example of a common houseplant. Maybe you believe that the best way to grow the houseplant is to water it every third day and keep it near a window. Maybe someone else believes that the best way to grow the houseplant is to water it whenever they remember and to put it on a high shelf somewhere, the top of a bookcase perhaps, which is where they want to display it. 

We could get into all kinds of arguments about how to care for this houseplant - and we do. But the truth reveals itself when the plant either grows or dies. All of our arguing, all of our posturing, all of our rebuttal...none of it makes a difference. The plant grows or dies based on the truth of what is actually good for it and what is actually not, and it's irrefutable. (We will still try to refute it because we hate being wrong. There must have been something defective about that plant's biology for it to have died like that; it couldn't possibly be that we didn't water it enough or give it enough light.) 

In the same way, we don't have to set Jesus in opposition to the world. We don't have to tell them how wrong they are or why their way doesn't work. Rather, we can simply live out the kind of faith that we have, stand on truth, and the world will see that it works. What is it that the Bible teaches us? We will know things by their fruit. And fruit is irrefutable. 

So when we're tempted to chastise the world for growing weeds, to set ourselves up against the invasiveness of it, to establish ourselves as anti-weed, maybe the best path is really to just be pro-fruit. Maybe the best response to this weed-ridden world is to go out and grow fruit. The world knows the difference between a thistle and a berry; a garden full of berries is our best defense against the thistles. 

All we have to do is go out and grow it. 

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