Ten Thousand Pieces of Crumbling Faith
I used to have faith because it made sense.
Growing up, choosing a faith in Jesus Christ and calling myself a “Christian” seemed to be the obvious thing to do. My parents were Christians, my family went to church, I sang in the kids’ choir, and many of the people around me were called Christians. What else was I supposed to believe? Everyone else was dead wrong, I was told; let’s just hope they eventually pick the right god to follow and save them from eternal fire. Or something like that. I certainly didn’t want to be wrong about something so big as God, and the Christians in my life seemed to have it together.
And for those in my world who didn’t believe in my God, I knew all the right things to tell them. I could prove that each and every word in the Bible was historically true. How archeology could point to the accuracy of every story I learned in Sunday school. I had been taught all about how evolution just couldn’t have happened and a six-day creation made a whole lot more sense–just as long as I ignored certain lessons in biology class. All I needed to do was convert others to my list of truths, and in these truths they would see Jesus. Good thing I was absolutely certain in everything that I believed.
My faith was solid as a rock.
I remember talking in high school youth group about what it would mean for our faith if part of the Bible wasn’t “true”–if one of its stories hadn’t occurred in history. The answer we landed on was that we would still have faith. Yet before even taking a breath, we added on that its sure nice we don’t have to worry about that because the whole book is true. Phew–that was a close one.
Solid as a rock. As long as the ten thousand different ideas and qualifications that made up that rock all held true. Inevitably, though, this list of a thousand beliefs that I thought to be faith has slowly fallen apart. My Christian university taught me that some parts of the Bible don’t seem to have really happened. That a whole lot of really good science points to evolution. I made close friends who know and experience Christ in ways I never have. Some of these friends are gay. I voted for a president that four years earlier I would have told you wasn’t the one a Christian ought to vote for. I took a class that taught postmodern philosophy–something I had been warned about because it “undermined absolute truth”–and I loved and embraced it. Almost every piece of the rock of my faith has crumbled apart; some pieces are still in the process of falling off.
My faith did not make sense.
What I had thought was faith was really only belief in a list of criteria. Following Jesus, for me, had been about believing and knowing that a whole host of things were true. Suddenly, these things weren’t as true as I thought they were. Yet as the ten thousand pieces of my faith have fallen away and continue to do so, something more sturdy has remained. Something more ancient. A rock, a cornerstone tried and true, leaned into through the ages.
On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
As almost everything that I used to call faith has fallen apart, I now see more clearly the center of all things–Christ. I see Jesus in my literature classes, in reading Plato and Dostoevsky and Marx. I see Jesus in people who don’t call on His name. I see Him more clearly in the church, in the mountains, in pain, in joy, in suffering and forgiveness. I see Jesus more clearly in myself. Suddenly Jesus is showing up in all kinds of places I didn’t know he was allowed to be. I don’t walk anymore by sight, because everything I was looking to for truth has slipped away, as I have released my white-knuckled grip on those vapors. Yet paradoxically, by walking by faith, I have been able to see more clearly.
I don’t have faith because it makes sense.
I have faith because the story of Christ is the most beautiful story I know.
I have faith because parts of scripture aren’t historically true, yet God uses them to speak truth.
I have faith because the more I look, everything is pointing to Christ.
I have faith because of all the saints, past and present, who help point my gaze toward Christ.
I have faith because the same God who called me by name seven years ago still listens when I call out to Him.
I have faith because I have leaned into Christ and discovered an abundant life like nothing else.
I have faith because I see in God a love that is not restrained by anything. Anything.
I have faith because in the crazy, illogical, countercultural act of placing my trust in God I have found a peace that passes understanding.
I don’t have faith because it makes sense. Yet I have faith.