Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why Evidence is Never Enough

Acts 1 says;

"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

This passage paints a picture of the crossroads at which most of us live.  I know I do.  The disciples had experienced "many convincing proofs" of the resurrection of Jesus.  They had all the evidence they needed to be certain he had risen and was, in fact alive.  But it was not enough for them, and Jesus knew it.  I am like that a lot.

First I have the evidence of Scripture.  In spite of the challenges it has faced over the years and the often intellectually vacuous arguments made against its authenticity, the Bible stands as more authentic than the writings of Plato, Aristotle and the history of Julius Caesar. 

On top of that is the evidence from personal experience.  The veracity of Scripture has been proven to me over and over as I have pursued a life that is informed and guided by the heart of God as revealed in the words of the Old and New Testaments.  But as psychologists know, evidence never convinces anyone.

All people know it is best to eat right, wear our seat belts, work hard, be generous, let go of pride, and stop imagining that Jerry Jones can take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl again..  But we have such trouble doing it even when the evidence is right in front of us daily.  And Jesus knew that.  So in verse 4 of Acts 1, he says "wait."  He asks all of these people who have all of the evidence they will ever need to wait for something more. 

This is what is so cool about the Christian faith.  It gets how human beings really are.   It's almost like the God of our faith made us himself.  He knows we humans need more than evidence.  So what does this God do?  He comes to us as the person of the Holy Spirit and immerses us in his presence and power so that we can live with the kind of conviction, commitment and purpose in our lives that evidence alone could never inspire. 

On any particular day, I may find the evidence available to me about my faith quite compelling.  Other days I may have some real and serious doubts.  The truth is, I have doubts about almost everything in life to which I make commitments.  I commit to adventures and struggles and relationships about which I may have little evidence or serious doubts all the time.

In the area of faith, however, that ability to trust seems to be more of a challenge for some of us.  So every day, the Holy Spirit is there to fill my life and baptize me with the power to live with a reckless love and an unstoppable passion for the people and world that God loves so  much. 

This is the crossroads of evidence and faith.  Evidence, or lack of evidence may make you believe one thing or another.  But ultimately, faith is inspired by something more than evidence alone.  May you be immersed in the Spirit that inspires great faith.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Alan! Very well said. The Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning saying to "turn away from your worries and follow me."

    When Jesus told the disciples to forgive over and over, it reminds us that our human nature struggles over and over with emotions daily. Everytime we forgive, it removes bitterness, anger, resentment, fear etc. removing all the burdens that eat at our spirit.

    Literally turning away from our worries and placing our sights on the Lord places our burdens to our back and replaces it with hope toward where he is leading us. Even if we are looking at his back as we chase after his heart.

    As in forgiveness, I find myself turning toward following Him over and over. The joy comes from the relationship once he has captured your heart and attention toward knowing our creator God. His Father and ours!