Have you ever considered how difficult it is to believe in the Gospel? We’ve all had moments where we doubt our faith in God; nonbelievers reasonably reject Him. But before that sounds like heresy, I want you to hang onto that word reasonably.
Let me point out something obvious: no one living has any memory of the events of Scripture. From the call of Abram to Christ crucified, we have seen nothing. We live in a world that seeks to develop better technology to advance itself, rather than submit to a God it can’t see. So it’s hard to believe God parting the Red Sea, or destroying Jericho, or Jesus healing the blind and the lame. Even more difficult is it to believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised back to life.
Let’s face it, it really is hard to have faith in something that we have not witnessed ourselves. Not merely something we haven’t seen, but something that is just—well—extraordinary. In an age where science and mathematics and reason seem to define how the world works, God really doesn’t make sense. It’s easy to ask questions like, If God is real, why doesn’t He just prove it?
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a friend one night who wanted guidance on how to approach something, saying:
“You know, I sometimes feel like God is really calling me to do something, and then other times not as much, but regardless, I know I need to do it. It’s hard, I just wish that He’d give me something more…tangible to rely on, you know?”
Which brought to my mind a question: Why? Why doesn’t God just give us something “tangible?” We’re all very used to the tangible, basing what we know on what we touch and see. We trust in what we have. A house, a job, family and friends, cars, food, entertainment, politics, and so on. But none of those tangible things are secure. You could lose all of them. And we all know that well, especially after two months in a pandemic.
But prior to that conversation, I had been reading 1 Corinthians 1. Verses 20-25 say:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preachto save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
And I thought a lot about that passage. But that word “tangible” rang in my mind. Is “tangible” really what we need? We often demand proof of some kind of what He wants us to do or what He is going to do for us. Our expectation is something like this: “If God exists, He will do this” or “if God loves me, He will do this.”
I believe that’s the flaw of our thinking. The idea that it is God’s responsibility to prove Himself, rather than us proving Him through our walk with Him. With this kind of reasoning, we probably wouldn’t accept any kind proof from God for anything. In other words, even if you had something tangible, you probably wouldn’t believe it. Think about how many times in Scripture someone had tangible evidence. The pharaoh and the ten plagues. Or Jesus casting out demons in the presence of an unbeliever. Their response? “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons.” (Luke 11:15). These men were learned men. Scribes, teachers, religious leaders. But they rationalized and reasoned Jesus out in their hearts, even with such “tangible” evidence. Suddenly the tangible doesn’t seem as attractive.
What the Apostle Paul points out, then, is that believing in Christ has nothing to do with man’s understanding. We cannot get to God by our reasoning, only by the Holy Spirit’s work are we open to Him and His wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:12). None of that seems reasonable from a human perspective, but that’s the point. “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks.” Seeking evidence or wisdom for the sake of evidence or wisdom does not seek to accept God, it’s a challenge to Him. It says, “God, you’re here right? Show me.” But God does not work within human contexts, rather:
“I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
But if we cannot understand God through discernment or wisdom, if we cannot understand Him through tangible evidence, how can we relate to Him? The answer can be found in two passages. The first, Ephesians 2:8, says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” It is not our understanding that saves us, but our faith in the Lord. And what is faith? Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is by faith that we are saved and by faith that we can relate to God and understand Him. What is tangible is the Scripture that we have been given. Faith is defined in Scripture, God is defined in Scripture, and we are described in Scripture. Sound ridiculous? It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. Seeking the tangible while disregarding the means God has given us for our salvation will get us nowhere. For those who love God, He is sufficient.