OT: Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22
Okay, so I may have gotten a bit carried away with my reading yesterday, and then accidentally blogged ahead. Oops! But on the plus side, I've already finished up Judges!
The number one thing that strikes me about reading Ruth today (besides the welcome break from war and depravity) is what connects Ruth to God. Here are the famous words she says to Naomi: "Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God" (16). So friends...why does Ruth choose to worship God? Is it because she has been rationally convinced of the logic of God's existence? Is it because she has seen clear evidence of His power and greatness? No. It is because she loves Naomi, and Naomi loves God.
Is that not remarkable? And yet, I see that phenomenon so clearly in life. People are not generally convinced of God's existence and of the need to worship Him through the use of logic and rationality. I would argue that most people aren't convinced of ANY of their most cherished beliefs through the use of logic and rationality, no matter what they tell themselves. Instead, we tend to believe the things we believe because the people we most love and respect believe those things (wow--that was a confusing sentence). The great majority of us Christians are so because we were taught by our parents. I believe honestly that it was their love, and not their logic that ultimately led us to our beliefs. At different times, we have all needed logic and rationality to bolster our beliefs (and that's why we have C.S. Lewis); at its root, however, our beliefs come from love.
The truly crazy thing is that the Bible so far has shown that the opposite approach--experience and reason--are actually NOT enough to hold a person to God. The Israelites whom God led out of Egypt, after all, personally experienced God in a clear, empirical way. God repeatedly urged them through Moses to rely on their rationality and logic ("Remember who saved you. Remember what you SAW.") And did that work? You would think so, but no, not so much. When hard times came and they had no food and water, their logic (and their memories, apparently) utterly failed them.
THAT'S why God tells us repeatedly to impart our faith to our children. Faith comes through love, and our children are the people we love most in the world. If anyone can convince anyone of anything, it is their loving parents. I believe that understanding that "love principle" can help us in our evangelism. I don't know of any people who converted to Christianity because they were rationally convinced by a debate between a Christian and an atheist. I know a TON of people who embraced Christianity because of the love and dedication of Christians who got involved in their lives.
There is so much more I can write about this idea, including a few caveats. I will resist, though, and move on to the NT. If anyone disagrees with this idea, however, I highly encourage you to weigh in. I feel that I may have put too much emphasis on the relational roots of faith and not enough on the rational...but as of now, I'm sticking to my guns:).
NT: John 4:4-42
Hmmm...this story offers an interesting counterpoint to my thoughts on Ruth. Is the woman at the well convinced of Jesus because He reached out to her or because He gave her some compelling evidence? According to her own words, it was because He gave compelling evidence; she tells the townspeople, "He told me everything I ever did" (39). And yet, I do see that the roots of her conversion are found in his willingness to talk to and engage with her, a shunned, Samaritan woman. I guess there is a balance in relationship v. reason, when coming to faith. If you think your parents are crazy, for example, you are not likely to embrace their faith, even if they are loving. Yet, I just know that in my life, whether I like to admit it or not, the most compelling "reasoning" for faith is to see people live it out in a clear way and to see them show Christ's love to me. And on the flip side, the most discouraging force in my faith is to see "Christians" who don't seem at all affected by Christianity, who are unloving and ungodly.
So here is my revised verdict: Reason alone doesn't convince someone to have faith in God. Instead, the most important factor in coming to faith is to experience the love of a person of faith. A Christian would argue that the love we experience in those times is God's love for us. As Christians, when we love other people, after all, we are loving them with Christ's love. It is He who taught us to lay down our lives for other people, to put their needs ahead of our own, to serve others in love.
Okay, that's where I am with that. There is a TON more to say about this passage, but in the interest of the thematic unity of this blog, I am going to move on now.
Well, I'm glad I revised my verdict, because this psalm admonishes us to "Remember the wonders [God] has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced" (5). According to my OT distinctions, these actions would fall under "reason." And reason is helpful.
I still don't think it's the most important factor, though:).
Solomon REALLY does not like deceit. False witnesses are not his thing.