This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.
“God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something that is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
An antagonist of Christians (or any faith-based group, really) satirist Pat Condell says, “A lot of stupid people have faith ... because they’re stupid – for the simple reason that believing is a heck of a lot easier than thinking. It takes time and effort to acquire knowledge, where any fool can acquire faith – instantly and effortlessly.” He makes a pretty decent living through his anti-religion monologues and earns high respect from other atheists and skeptics who agree with him.
There is a group, however, that Condell seems to be willing to go easier on. This was illustrated (or at least implied) in what he said just before the above quote from one of his YouTube posts. “Now of course,” he concedes, "not everyone who has a religious faith is a complete idiot.” - A worthy and reassuring assertion, to say the least. It makes me wonder if Condell (and even some of his intellectual colleagues) might not secretly reserve a small place of modest respect for “non-idiotic Believers” and consider, ideally anyway, the possibility that one or two might even exist.
Actually, I don’t mind that category at all. “Non-idiotic Believer” has an attractive but honest – even somewhat accurate ring to it. It gets me thinking about one of the texts Pastor Jeff used in his talk during the wedding of his daughter, Anna and K.C. Pedersen, the excellent son of MCC members, Ken and Tammy Pedersen. There Jeff Challenged K.C. and Anna to consider becoming what The Apostle Paul seemed fully willing to admit he himself had become - out of his mind for Jesus.
The Apostle writes first of the fact that Christians walk not only by sight, but also by faith, following shortly after that with“... [however] if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
Like most of us who read these MCC weekly devotions, Paul believed many things that a logical, scientific world, obsessed with the notion that one can/should only embrace what can be measured and verified as fact, would find absurd. Yet, even some of the most sophisticated, educated, and disagreeable philosophers of his time sat and listened while he spoke (see Acts 17 where, though called a babbling fool by some, others respected his thinking enough to want to hear more). Might it be that Paul’s excellent mind, engaging illustrations, and sincere love for them, contributed to a handful of those Athenians’ inclusion of him in the “non-idiotic Believer” category?
That’s what I hope for for myself and our church – that we might appear to be fools when judged by culture’s value system yet respected by those who might disagree with us yet categorize us as, “Believers, yes; idiots, no”.
Read that sermon of Paul’s that’s recorded there in Acts 17. Consider the following questions:
- What did Paul do to be given an audience instead of a quick ride out of town and the label “village idiot”?
- How did he use his intellect as well as his heart? What evidence of BOTH do you see in this chapter?
- Have you heard people who tried to preach some of the same concepts Paul presented there but came out sounding like non-thinking idiots? Did Paul sound like one to you? If not, why not? How do you account for the differences between how people responded to Paul in Athens and how they responded to what you heard on the street corner or outside the main gate of your favorite MLB ballpark?
BE A BLESSING
Is there a “normal” member of or participant in our church family (read “not an MCC pastor”) that has the kind of thoughtful, intellectually honest faith that inspires you? Why not consider sending them a Pixinote or writing a card to them that expresses what you observe and appreciate about them.
Then, as you push the “send’ button or open the mailbox, pray for them, asking God to give you a slice of what it is in them that so touches your heart and mind.
Here’s an idea I tried with my brother-in-law, Mark, that we both found to be a real win:
Find a lecture series in your area that is in a field where you would be considered a novice. For me, the community lecture on black holes fit the bill, so he and I went. Something of a serious hobby scientist, Mark actually understood much more than I did and could answer many of my questions. Not only was it a mentally stretching lecture, but an interesting one too. Plus, my brother-in-law and I had one more chance to relate in a field where he was the expert.
Whom do you know that might walk that “mind-building journey” with you? Why not give it a try?