On authority?

Why do you believe in God? In many ways the concept of God is difficult to grasp in terms of believability. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.

It’s a fascinating story when we reflect on the making of this great nation, the United States. What has always seemed remarkable to me is the fact that a group of loosely joined colonies, each with their distinct ethnic and social fabric, governed independently of one another by various assemblies and houses, joined together to confront the greatest military and naval power on the face of the earth and struggled to become an independent nation. On paper it was impossible and in further theory highly unlikely. There were just too many factors pointing to failure, even disaster. Yet, the struggle succeeded against all odds. Why? Frankly it had everything to do with the one thing the British were counting on to happen that didn’t: disunity based on the obvious political and geographical diversity among the colonies. How could the Carolinas ever find unity with New Englanders? In fact, they didn’t except for one fundamental and deciding thing. Each of the colonies embraced the concept of freedom above all else. This united them and made the impossible a possibility.

Americans historically have prospered within a culture of unity in diversity based on a presumption of an overriding belief accepted on authority since revolutionary times–freedom.

Here’s a story. “Believing things ‘on authority’ only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there is such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary person believes in the solar system, atoms, and the circulation of the blood on authority– because the scientists say so. Every historical statement is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But we believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them; in fact, on authority. A person who balked at authority in other things, as some people do in religion, would have to be content to know nothing all his life.” (C.S. Lewis.)

Why do you believe in God? In many ways the concept of God is difficult to grasp in terms of believability. There exists a spiritual being that created something from nothing, is so vast and powerful that the entire universe fits into his hands, yet so personal and gracious that he knows each one of us personally? How is that believable? Similarly, I think if the early colonists in the Carolinas, faced only with the knowledge that their brothers in New England had to deal with a blockade of their harbors, would have left New England to its own fate. Believing in a struggle for liberty based solely on terms of commercial tyranny, even personal tragedy and suffering, would have been hard for those in the Carolinas to react to. The various colonies believed in a struggle that eventually created this nation because they were united in their belief in freedom. It was a concept that unified them and made them willing to contend with their differences and unite in diversity for a common cause. God is believable because of Christ. If we try to convert unbelievers strictly with what we believe to be true we’re not likely to be successful. It’s Christ that unifies us, not what we believe to be true. Christ is truth. By the good authority of Scripture we know Christ. This is where believing must begin, with the truth of the goodness of Christ. This unifies believers even when teaching about Scriptures is diverse. Christ is the unifying force that will defeat the greatest power of evil ever known, Satan and his army of hate. We are free only in Christ: he and he alone justifies the struggle.

We pray. Thank you Lord for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. You have by your Holy Spirit founded this faith in our hearts so that we could believe in you even when you are so hard to grasp in all your power and majesty. Forgive us Lord, when we try to make others believe what we believe strictly based on what we believe. May we always preach Christ first and Christ last, and leave the rest up to you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

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