Friday, May 31, 2013

How Small a Seed?

It is interesting that Stephen Hawking will say that although certain, heretofore unknown particles, have not yet actually been seen, they must exist, because the effects *can* be seen. – Buddy Spaulding

That statement, along with the description of faith we saw in Monday's post about the Centurion, create an interesting picture of what faith really is.  And we're going to explore that, today.

Have you ever gone through turmoil or a trial? Somewhere in the midst of it, there’s usually someone who says in an ominous, pious voice, “You have to have faith.”. I’ve got to generate my own faith. My own experience has been that my flesh can’t generate anything worthwhile. Especially faith.  Just as the Bible says.  So, I need God's help in that department.  But that doesn't tell us what faith is.

There are several definitions of faith in Merriam-Webster.  The first one speaks of an allegiance or loyalty to duty or a person, keeping promises, and having sincere intentions.  That sounds an awful lot like our friend the Centurion.  The second definition talks about belief and trust in God, loyalty to Him, belief in traditionally accepted doctrines of a religion.  The third definition is merely something believed, many times with strong conviction.

If we think about those definitions, that statement by Stephen Hawking shows him to be a man of faith.  Just not in the same way we have faith.  We'll get into that further, later on.  I want to go back to the Centurion, first.  He presents a vivid picture in the verse we began with on Monday.

Matthew 8:9 (KJV)  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Loyalty to duty is evident, as is a belief in Jesus and His capability to heal, possibly not yet recognizing His Godhood.  But the Centurion trusted Jesus beyond trusting any other possible sources of healing for his servant.  It was really mustard seed sized faith.  In the following verses, Jesus says that was greater faith than He'd seen anywhere else in Israel.  The Centurion had his experience in the military way of life to give him an idea what authority was, as well as obedience and trust.  And those allowed him to honor and trust Jesus to heal his servant.

The rest of us have a similar experience.  We've had numerous examples of what can be trusted and what can't.  The Centurion had his military background to help him decide to trust Jesus' obvious authority to heal.  Which brings us back to Stephen Hawking.

There's a whole series of theories that at least seem to be continually 100% correct.  Other theories get built on those, more on top of that level, yet another level upon those, etc.  At some point, the most foundational levels get taken as "truth" and the thinking shifts to making this whole mental construction into fact instead of theory.  To do that takes faith.  A series of theories that work all the time are placed one on top of another to create a resulting structure.

The particle mentioned in the starting quote is the Higgs boson, which the press has nicknamed the "God particle".  To keep it simple, all the scientific theories pointed to one thing holding everything together.  Until recently, there was no way of proving it existed.  I'll let you research the details, but using a thing called a Large Hadron Collider, scientists produced the effects of the Higgs boson.  Later, they were able to "see" one.  For those who don't accept God, this was considered a good starting point for debunking another God myth.

All of that misses an interesting fact brought up by other scientists.  If you take this all the way back to the creation of the universe, whether you believe the Big Bang Theory or something else, matter does not generate itself.  That takes an outside force.  We call that force "God", but the scientists used a more generic term.  They called it the "uncaused cause".  There had to be something  to create the matter and then form the universe from it.  Yes, that was a scientific conclusion.

Then there's Christianity.  We build our faith upon a book we believe to be the Word of God.  But that belief comes from that being taught as truth over the centuries.  And we accept that some is literal, while other sections are metaphorical or allegorical.  If we look at all the variations of Christianity, there's variety in how the Bible is interpreted and determining which portions are literal.  Which one's right?

There's as much research into the veracity of the Bible and interpreting its meaning as go into some scientific endeavors.  Which, just like the scientific studies, have had a variety of conclusions.  The problem is not in science, nor is it in spiritual faith.  It's in the hearts of men.  The need to be "something", to be right.

I truly believe that God exists, that Jesus is the Son of God and a coexisting part of God with the Father and the Holy Spirit to form one God.  I believe the Bible is true.  I'm still working on some of the parts that some say is literal, others interpret as metaphorical.  But much of the last part is probably unimportant in God's grand scheme of things.  We still have to get it right when it comes to loving our neighbor.  Sometimes, we don't see that our neighbor isn't just the guy who thinks like we do and believes the same way we do.  That goes for attitudes of Christians and nonbelievers.

When I look at all the different schools of thought, religions, and denominations, I seriously wonder if we won't all be embarrassed on Judgement Day because we all have something major wrong in our interpretation of Scripture.  The atheists and agnostics don't even recognize Scripture, other religions claim they have Scripture, much of Christianity spends too much time claiming their denominational Biblical interpretation is right and everyone else's is wrong.  If we look at the meetings where atheists and Christians have come together to talk about their beliefs, they've been debates not discussions.  Both sides were too busy "proving" that their viewpoint was right to love the person with opposing views.

We've all seen how Stephen Hawking and others have been called names and bashed.  Not exactly the way to win people.  I wonder who will be honest enough to admit that their participation in the name calling and the bashing might just be the reason Stephen Hawking and some of his fellow atheists are unsaved because they've been turned off by the messengers?  Turned off enough to never fully study the message and recognize its truth.  

Jesus didn't tell the Centurion, "Sorry, dude.  You're an undiscipled Roman soldier.  I won't heal your servant.".  He loved His neighbor and drew him into the flock.  We need to start praying for the church.  That it stops fighting about denominational pet doctrines.  You don't hear a jazz musician tell someone they're  a lousy musician because they play bluegrass instead of jazz.  But the equivalent is OK in the Body of Christ?  

Next, we need to pray for more people to evangelize the lost.  Not scare them into a profession that means nothing because they're avoiding hell, not meeting God.  Not being convinced they have to do anything beyond believe.  God will take care of the changing.

We need to pray for the unsaved, including Stephen Hawking.  Until we have no more earthly life, there's always a chance he and others could be converted.  With God, there's always hope in what appears hopeless.

What are you doing, today, to grow that mustard seed into something great?

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